The SurveyIn his op-ed, Kyl explained that the survey was specifically designed to poll conservatives about their concerns with the social media giant. “Facebook placed no restrictions on how I could conduct the work,” Kyl said. “My team at the law firm Covington & Burling LLP began conducting interviews in May 2018. We cast a wide net to include as many aspects of conservatism as possible—from organizations focused on Christian values or protecting free expression to those focused on tax policy and small government.” What Kyl’s team arrived at was six “buckets” of concerns amongst conservatives. Those buckets were as follows: content distribution and algorithms, content policies, content enforcement, ad policies, ad enforcement, and workforce viewpoint diversity. Broadly speaking, those are some of the major concerns of all conservatives with social media. They believe that social media unfairly censors their content and limits access to it. Particularly concerning is the general definition of “hate speech.” Many conservatives believe that liberal outlets will slowly broaden the definition of terms like “hate speech” to encompass many mainstream conservative policies. These might include challenging liberal views on transgenderism, promoting religious ideals, or debating mainstream narratives on race. If left-leaning outlets, which include Facebook and most other major media and social media companies, are left to define what is hate speech, many conservatives fear they won’t be allowed to speak at all.
Conservatives Praise KylBut Kyl’s report is the first step in moving back in the right direction. And more importantly, he notes that Facebook is implementing some of his suggestions already. They have formed an oversight board to hear appeals on censorship decisions. The company is working on transparency tools that will better inform users why they are or are not seeing certain content. And they are hiring more employees to directly deal with companies concerned about potential censorship. This prompted many conservative talking heads to praise Facebook for moving in the right direction. Ben Shapiro cautioned that while the result might not be perfect, it was certainly a laudable step forward. He also hoped other social media companies might follow suit.
Shapiro’s analysis is correct. Many conservatives want more from Facebook. But in the interim, they ought to praise the company for the efforts it has made so far. Facebook brought in Jon Kyl to advocate for conservatives. As a result, their concerns are being taken more seriously than ever before.
Kyl’s report is thorough and a solid start. It looks like Facebook is taking seriously a larger commitment to political transparency (appeals board, staffing up for responsiveness, new ad policy to allow pro-life images). I look forward to seeing next steps. https://t.co/df6HgCSkZz— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) August 20, 2019