Is filmmaker right Mark Zuckerberg is ‘an enemy of the state?’


Fact Box

  • Mark Zuckerberg launched the groundbreaking social media platform Facebook on February 4, 2004. He was a Harvard sophomore at the time.
  • In a New York Times “Sway” podcast with journalist Kara Swisher, Documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns, criticized Zuckerberg as “an enemy of the state” and mentioned he should be in jail while talking about his new series about boxer Muhammad Ali.
  • Zuckerberg has been under recent scrutiny for Facebook’s data privacy and Russian disinformation in March 2021. In 2018, Congress brought Zuckerberg in to testify over Facebook’s privacy policies.
  • In Glassdoor’s 2021 CEO ranking, Zuckerberg dropped off the list of “Top CEOs” for the first time since 2013, however, he got an 88% approval rating which is higher than the average 73% CEO rating. 
  • According to Pew Research Center, Facebook has over 2.8 billion monthly users around the world. In 2019, 59% of adults said they did not trust Facebook as a political news source, but a 2020 poll showed that 36% of adults still used Facebook as a news source.

Noah (No)

Controversy has followed Facebook and its billionaire founder Mark Zuckerberg since the beginning. Zuckerberg became the world's youngest billionaire in 2008 and has since become a household name commonly associated with internet monopolies. Freedom of speech is a hot topic in 2021. From COVID-19 misinformation to allegations of voter fraud, the country is divided over what should and should not be allowed publicly on social media. 

Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act states: 'No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.' This valuable protection, as laid out in Section 230, of free speech prevents legal action from being taken against platforms that support it. This is what President Biden wants to 'revoke Immediately.”

Our Constitution is clear on protecting speech, and it is Zuckerberg's position on this provision that determines whether he is actually an 'enemy of the state.' First and foremost, Facebook has repeatedly expressed a desire to protect speech on their platform, resisting government interference, and their support for Section 230 reform that keeps regulation out of the government's hands.

Secondly, Zuckerberg has donated $300 million to protect American elections, $250 million to Centers for Tech and Civic Life, which will regrant it to election officials recruiting poll workers, and $50 million to Center for Election Innovation & Research. Mark Zuckerberg is not an enemy of the state, an enemy of the ruling class, or of free speech; he makes money by facilitating it. Those arguing against Section 230 protections or demeaning Zuckerberg in this way are perhaps the real “enemies of the state.”


Tyler (Yes)

Filmmaker Ken Burns' criticism of Mark Zuckerberg was completely warranted. Zuckerberg holds a great deal of responsibility for the division and distribution of misinformation in the United States. Within two years of Facebook's creation, numerous data and privacy breaches led to Zuckerberg apologizing to the application's users. The organization was hit with a $5 billion fine for unlawfully collecting the data of up to 87 million users in 2019. 

That paired with a 2020 Princeton University-led study, Facebook is the most untrustworthy social media site in which to gather the news. President Joe Biden explained that Facebook is causing more harm than good by serving as a platform for misinformation, particularly during a pandemic. Forbes reported that since 2020, the engagement between Facebook users and 'fake news' has shot up by 177%. While Facebook has attempted to crack down on misinformation or generally inappropriate material, it has been inconsistent and only benefited specific groups of people. In March, Zuckerberg took the floor for Congress and proposed for Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act to be amended. His suggestion would remove legal liability from social media platforms for promoting unlawful content. 

Congresswoman Pramila Jaypal accused Zuckerberg of using his societal power to harm and destroy competing social media platforms. Facebook has been spotted mimicking near-exact features from small, start-up social media sites, often leading to these smaller companies to go out of business. Zuckerberg refused to use the word 'copy' when referring to this practice. The Facebook CEO referred to it as 'adapting features from other websites.' All of this points to the general untrustworthiness of Facebook, led by its CEO Zuckerberg.

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