The man who wrote the hit movie “The Social Network,” a Hollywood adaptation of the rise of Silicon Valley tech giant Facebook, is now publicly lambasting the company’s CEO.
Using Mark Zuckerberg’s apparent pushback against the film as a bludgeon, Aaron Sorkin ridiculed Zuckerberg in an open letter published in the New York Times for what he views as hypocrisy on behalf of Facebook. Apparently, Zuckerberg breathed down the backs of the film’s writers, demanding to fact-check every detail of the story, only to publicly accuse Sorkin of lying after the film was released. That’s water under the bridge, according to Sorkin, but in the letter, he publicly wonders what happened to Zuckerberg’s commitment to truth.
“I didn’t push back on your public accusation that the movie was a lie because I’d had my say in the theaters, but you and I both know that the screenplay was vetted to within an inch of its life by a team of studio lawyers with one client and one goal: Don’t get sued by Mark Zuckerberg,” Sorkin said.
“It was hard not to feel the irony while I was reading excerpts from your recent speech at Georgetown University, in which you defended — on free speech grounds — Facebook’s practice of posting demonstrably false ads from political candidates,” he continued. “I admire your deep belief in free speech. I get a lot of use out of the First Amendment. Most important, it’s a bedrock of our democracy and it needs to be kept strong.”
Facebook is facing pushback from both sides of the political aisle regarding political speech on its site. Conservatives tend to believe that Facebook has been too restrictive of political speech, after it banned high-profile conservative influencers, including our own Laura Loomer, labeling them “dangerous individuals” simply for holding ordinary conservative beliefs.
Liberals, on the other hand, are breathing down Facebook’s back to crack down on political speech, particularly what they believe to be Facebook’s lackluster approach to banning speech that they consider “hateful,” and more recently, advertisements that liberals say are untruthful.
Facebook has taken a middling approach to the latter claim, given that the nature of political advertisement leans towards exaggeration, and the prospect of banning political advertisements would only cause more headaches and accusations of political bias.
Sorkin, a Hollywood liberal if there ever was one, has taken the side one might expect of a Hollywood liberal. He wants Facebook to censor political ads.
“But this can’t possibly be the outcome you and I want, to have crazy lies pumped into the water supply that corrupt the most important decisions we make together. Lies that have a very real and incredibly dangerous effect on our elections and our lives and our children’s lives” Sorkin said. “You and I want speech protections to make sure no one gets imprisoned or killed for saying or writing something unpopular, not to ensure that lies have unfettered access to the American electorate.”
Sorkin perhaps has not considered the full ramifications of his advocacy. The main question is this: if Facebook were to censor political ads, who gets to decide which content is false and which content is true, and could such a person or organization be trusted to be truly non-partisan?
The answer? Doubtful.
That’s why Facebook is, for once, correct to air on the side of free speech, despite the whiny letter from the man who wrote the movie about the company’s creation.
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