SWILLY CORN VALLEY, CALIFORNIA — Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, has announced today that his platform will no longer ban people for using hate speech, at least not just for them using hate speech. The move was necessary, Zuckerberg said, in order to ensure that Breitbart remains a trusted news source on the new Facebook News service launched by the social media titan this week.
“Since its inception, Facebook has had a zero tolerance policy for hate speech,” Mr. Zuckerberg told investors on a weekly conference call, “and while I wish we could still maintain that zero tolerance policy, the truth is our partnership with Breitbart has forced us to reconsider some things, and we realize now that some of our users might recognize hate speech as news, instead.”
During the 2016 presidential election, operatives from Russia were able to exploit weaknesses in Facebook’s ability to keep disinformation from spreading on its pages and groups. While the attacks on social media weren’t limited to Facebook, it’s been Zuckerberg’s firm that’s faced some of the harshest scrutiny. In recent weeks, Facebook has come under further fire from legislators and others for what they say is the company’s poor decision to not police claims made in political advertising, leaving it up to users instead to determine if what they’re being told is fact or fiction.
Twitter recently announced it would stop all political advertising altogether on its platform, rather than step too far into content moderation or being overly permissive with disinformation.
“The fact of the matter is, if we kept our ban, Breitbart would get auto-banned from our site just about every time they published something on it. It’s just all about free speech,” Zuckerberg explained to his investors, “and of course monetizing free speech. Or, perhaps not the free speech itself, but the personal data of the people exercising their free speech. We need to do anything we can to keep people from leaving our data mining operation — excuse me, social media network. If one of those things is catering to the worst of the worst, and getting cozy with a publication that called Sandy Hook a false flag and regularly publishes racist, incendiary diatribes, then isn’t that what we should do? If not for the continued well being of society, but for the continued well being of our stock portfolios?”
Mr. Zuckerberg tried to appeal to everyone’s sense of “fairness” as well. He said that he’s trying to be fair “to all interested parties.”
“We have to strike a balance in everything. Breitbart may not be everyone’s cup of tea, and they may be an absolutely morally bankrupt publication,” Zuckerberg said, “but does any of that matter more than our need to give out executive bonuses? Is it really so bad a thing to have a known propaganda outlet be considered a news outlet? And before you answer that question, please allow me to end the call and run right out of my office without looking back.”
Zuckerberg hung up. As promised, he ran out of his office. Sources say he’s not expected back in the office any time soon. Reportedly, there are other news outlets that will be joining Facebook News. In an email from Zuckerberg to Facebook staff that leaked to publications, he lays out what some of the other trusted news sources will eventually be. Last week, it was reported that internal strife within the company is building up over Zuckerberg’s decisions about misinformation.
“Natural News will be the official Facebook News publication of record for all health and medical news,” Zuckerberg writes, “and just so everyone knows, we fully plan on balancing out Breitbart’s influence with the KKK newsletter, Stormfront. After all, where will the readers who know Breitbart doesn’t go enough with their headlines turn to for their news? We certainly don’t want them leaving! At least not before we can harvest their personal and private data!”
While in general the hate speech rules will be lifted to accommodate Breitbart’s inclusion on Facebook News, Zuckerberg cautions users not to “experiment too much” with what they themselves will get away with posting.
“Let’s not crazy, folks. Racist, homophobic, Christiofascist headlines aside,” Zuckerberg said, “We’re still going to cater to the most easily offended and let them brigade report you for innocuous memes making fun of how much white people like mayonaise and ask to speak to the manager, or turn a blind eye to systemic, racist abuse at the hands of the police force in this country. Don’t get it twisted, folks.”
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.