Under the First Amendment, Zuckerberg is free to do what he likes here, though there seems to be something shadier about undercover manipulation of what shows in your timeline as opposed to, say, editorial endorsements, or even slanted coverage, of the sort we’re used to in traditional news media.
Even so, the possibility that by using Facebook, you’re opening yourself up to manipulation by someone for political reasons could give users pause. And the employees’ question itself, as law professor Ann Althouse notes, suggests that Facebook has a diversity problem when it comes to politics. Althouse writes: “For one thing, there’s an unexamined premise that everyone already shares a political position — Trump shouldn’t win — and that speaks of a lack of political diversity and pressure on dissenters within the organization to keep silent. For another thing, it omits any thought of a counterresponsibility to keep neutral politically, the idea that the highest duty is to the freedom of speech of those who use Facebook.”
She concludes: “It is true that Facebook would be protected by the First Amendment, even as it screwed with the freedom of speech of over a billion human beings. What’s tremendously important here is to maintain pressure on Facebook to respect our freedom. We don’t have a legal right to assert against Facebook, but that is absolutely not a reason to give up and let Facebook do what it wants to repress speech. We have moral, political, social and economic power, and we should assert it.