The notion that Facebook’s reluctance to limit users from interacting is akin to neglecting efforts to “preserve democracy,” as Coll ludicrously suggests. It is also just another example of how the contemporary usage of “democracy” means little more than “fulfilling the wishes of liberals.”
If you believe Americans are too stupid to hear wrongthink, transgressive ideas, and, yes, fake news, you’re not a fan of the small-l liberal conception of free expression. That’s fine. Those ideas seem to be falling into disfavor with many. But the sanctity of free speech isn’t predicated on making sure people hear the right things, it’s predicated on letting everyone have their say. Because as always, the question becomes who decides what expression is acceptable. I’m not keen on having the fatuous media reporters at CNN or activist “fact-checkers” at the Washington Post adjudicating what is and isn’t permissible for mass consumption.
Facebook, of course, has no duty to provide us with a platform. It was Coll, however, who brought up free speech as “a principle.” And this obsession among journalists with pressuring platforms into limiting speech betrays their illiberal inclination. Speech is a neutral principle — universal, fundamental, and unassailable. A Facebook user no more “weaponizes” speech than a criminal weaponizes due process.