Facebook wants to have it both ways, both ethically and legally. The company wants to be seen as a source of news. The company offers media outlets a chance to use Facebook Instant, because having native content from the New York Times enhances Facebook’s credibility. And yet it also wants to retreat into the safe harbor of being a mere intermediary that does not distinguish between Uncle Tommy’s rants and a Washington Post investigation. That’s why Zuckerberg has responded to criticisms of fake news by saying Facebook’s job is not to determine what’s true.
Facebook needs to to stop playing both sides, but it keeps trying to walk the line. Vice correspondent Nellie Bowles said on Twitter, “On the phone with Facebook PR and they literally ask me ‘what is truth’.” As Bowles pointed out in an article later, Facebook already has an answer to this question: the company just officially banned fake news sources from buying ads. Clearly, Zuckerberg et al know how to distinguish real from fake, but are choosing to feign ignorance when it suits them.
Facebook, stop it. Stop calling it a “news feed.” Call it a “friend feed.” Call it a “fun feed.” Call it whatever you want—just don’t call it news, because it’s a dangerous misrepresentation for those 44% of Americans who choose to look to Facebook for actual news.
Incredibly, one of the new talking points being promulgated by extreme conservatives about Ahmed Mohamed, the little Muslim boy who was arrested for bringing a self-made clock to school, is that he and his parents brought it on themselves for the publicity so they could file a lawsuit.
Another is put forth in the Fox News clip above during an exchange between anchor Megyn Kelly and disgraced former LA police officer Mark Fuhrman, who was exposed as a racist bigot in the wake of the O.J. Simpson trial.
Kelly laughs in his face:
“Mark, I mean, you’ve got to feel bad for the kid. The kid not do anything wrong. But did the cops do anything wrong?” Kelly asked. “Did the school do anything wrong? To a person, everybody who I’ve talked to says the thing looked like a bomb. It looked like a bomb.”
“Well, certainly, Megyn, there’s not very many people — except for the bomb squad — that actually knows what an explosive-timed device looks like. So, they were erring on the side of caution. You’re talking about an English teacher, and you’re talking about police officers that are put in the position that they have to do something,” Fuhrman replied. “Now, I don’t feel sorry for Ahmed, because he offered no explanation to the police. He wouldn’t cooperate. He was passive aggressive by –”
“Passive aggressive?” an incredulous Kelly interrupted as she and guest Richard Fowler burst into laughter.
“By all news reports…” Fuhrman began as Kelly and Rhodes talked over each other while still shaking their heads and laughing.
“I feel like there’s a set up going on here,” Fuhrman continued. “This kid isn’t stupid. So when the police are there, he could have easily explained this. He says ‘call my parents. They know I’ve been building this. I’ve been building it for a long time.’ But he didn’t.”
As both Kelly and Rhodes pointed out, Mohamed did ask to speak with his parents and was rebuffed by police authorities.
This is typical of conservatives in this country. If you don’t like the facts of an issue, just start repeating lies in the hopes that one of them will gain traction.
They do it to everyone; Pope Francis and innocent little Muslim boys. They have no shame.