Free speech doesn’t compel dishonesty

By

Opinion

October 23, 2019 - 10:34 AM

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leads a conversation on free expression at Georgetown University on Thursday in Washington, D.C.

Mark Zuckerberg says he is worried about an erosion of truth. He doesn’t believe pulling back on expression in times of tension is the right road for a democracy to take. And he thinks people should not have to live in a world where they can say only things that technology companies judge to be accurate.

All three concerns are well-founded. But they do not, as Facebook’s chief executive claims, mean that Facebook must publish deliberate and damaging falsehoods in political advertising.

Mr. Zuckerberg spoke at Georgetown University last week to defend his company’s decision to allow campaigns to pay to have their lies promoted. The principles underlying the talk were noble. But they also avoided the essential question — which isn’t whether Facebook should be generous toward political speech, but whether it should allow even the most obviously untruthful content unlimited reach, as well.

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