What is hate speech to some is uncomfortable truth to another. One man's ceiling is another man's floor. My advise to Big Tech is to don't bother to police the internet. Just let people say what they want and save yourself all the trouble.The world’s biggest social-media companies, under fire for failing to police content on their sites, have invited an array of outside groups to help them figure out who should be banned and what’s considered unacceptable.
That solution is creating a new set of problems—public fights, complaints and legal battles.
Silicon Valley giants Facebook Inc., FB 3.25% Twitter Inc. TWTR 1.47% and Google’s YouTube unit have made a concerted push to seek out input from hundreds of groups, a growing number of which lean to the right. The companies have become receptive to behind-the-scenes lobbying as well.
Among the initiatives, Facebook has privately sought advice from the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian public-policy group, and its president Tony Perkins, according to people familiar with those meetings. Twitter’s Chief Executive Jack Dorsey recently hosted dinners with conservatives, including Grover Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, which advocates for lower taxes. Advisers on the left include the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil-rights group that keeps a list of hate groups.
For users frustrated by the lack of clarity around how these companies make decisions, the added voices have made matters even murkier. Meetings between companies and their unofficial advisers are rarely publicized, and some outside groups and individuals have to sign nondisclosure agreements.
And in many cases, posts that are hateful to one group are considered fair game—or even uncomfortable truths—to others on the opposite end of the spectrum, opening a whole new arena to continue the political and ideological fights that are often a staple of social media.
When Twitter executives struggled with whether to follow other Silicon Valley companies and remove conspiracy theorist Alex Jones from the platform in August, Mr. Dorsey privately sought counsel from Ali Akbar, a conservative political activist, Mr. Akbar says.
Mr. Akbar advised Mr. Dorsey against kicking off Mr. Jones, despite pressure from users and Twitter employees. Mr. Akbar argued that Mr. Jones hadn’t violated any of the site’s rules—a point Mr. Dorsey also made when he explained the decision in a Twitter post. Mr. Dorsey didn’t disclose Mr. Akbar’s involvement.
“It’s important that Jack sought a right-of-center perspective which cannot be found at Twitter,” Mr. Akbar says. “Jack was brave.”
But I am happy that they are giving the right a voice. This is only fair.