In the wake of the 2016 Presidential Election, one topic has remained at the forefront of national issues: fake news.
Fake news, as the phrase suggests, is literally just false news. Often times, these fake facts and political stories are shared through Internet memes. These memes are spread across targeted communities in order to be accepted as facts.
When these “facts” get spread around, it can have a political effect. For example, in the latest presidential election, fake news spread on Facebook was one of the leading factors cited by many political pundits as a major factor in why the election went the way it did.
But is it Facebook’s job as a private company to regulate all posts and memes and to determine what is fake news? The answer, quite simply, is no.
The First Amendment gives the American people five rights, one of which is the freedom of the press. While the press is obviously a gargantuan force within American politics, are we about to give the right to regulate the press to a private company? A private company who stands to benefit financially from one administration to another?
For example, Peter Thiel is a board member at Facebook and a Trump supporter. He has also been a major opposition to news that he finds objectionable in recent years. He has even gone as far as to fund multiple lawsuits that do not involve himself against Gawker because they outed him as gay. This attempt was successful in bankrupting Gawker, which was forced to shut down and sell their assets to Univision.
These are just the actions of one ultra wealthy individual with a personal vendetta. Now, imagine you take the power of being able to determine what is legitimate or illegitimate news and put it in the power of a private company? Ultimately, this is a super slippery slope.
It is not Facebook’s job or responsibility to regulate our news.
The author studies internet law and ethics at Adelphi University