McClaughry: Government regulation of ‘misinformation’ last thing we need

By John McClaughry

Last week I watched news reports on WCAX and WPTZ, featuring the “Facebook whistleblower” Francis Haugen. She’s the former Facebook employee who copied thousands of pages of internal documents to prove that Facebook designs its products to attract customers, whose fees pay their bills and generate lots of profit for CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Well, duh.

Her testimony to a Senate subcommittee emphasized that Facebook allows the circulation of inflammatory and divisive content and – gasp – misinformation. And Facebook knew the ill effects this avalanche of false and harmful words and pictures could have, especially on teenage girls worried about their body images and social acceptance.

The Senators leaped at the bait, and enthusiastically agreed that something must be done, by them, to put the government in charge of regulating Facebook content and misinformation.

Elizabeth  Nolan Brown of Reason offered a more useful conclusion: “making tech companies share more user data with regulators, letting Congress decide what sorts of content can be seen on social media, and giving regulatory agencies more room to put tech companies on trial—[is]  a cross-agency fishing expedition that will hopefully turn up something senators can use to justify all the time they’ve wasted on this.”

My wife and I raised two teenage daughters. If they had complained that living on Facebook lowered their self-esteem and suggested suicide, I would have said: “So, get the hell off of Facebook.”  Government regulation of purveyors of alleged misinformation is the last thing a free country needs.

The author is founder and vice-president of the Ethan Allen Institute. He lives in Kirby.

Categories: Commentary

1 reply »

  1. One person’s “misinformation’ is another person’s 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech, do we really want to go down that road ? I believe that Democrats referred to the questionable results of the last election as “the great lie”, no matter whether the questionable acts were caught on video, or not. Just another “Pandora’s Box” that big government should stay ta hell out of, as the only entity that will benefit is an already overly intrusive Liberal government. I do believe though that when the media of any type, gets a story wrong, they should be honest and do a correction or retraction. Fess up, or your part of the problem.

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