Social media giants Facebook and Twitter have collectively seen $51.2 billion in combined market value wiped out over the last two trading sessions since they banned President Donald Trump from their platforms following the U.S. Capitol breach.
It’s possible they had nothing but good intentions and really did believe they were going to prevent harm to life and property:
User reports of violent content jumped more than 10-fold from the morning, according to documents viewed by The Wall Street Journal. A tracker for user reports of false news surged to nearly 40,000 reports an hour, about four times recent daily peaks. On Instagram, the company’s popular photo-sharing platform, views skyrocketed for content from authors in “zero trust” countries, reflecting potential efforts at platform manipulation by entities overseas.
Facebook’s platforms were aflame, the documents show. One Instagram presentation, circulated internally and seen by the Journal, was subtitled “Why business as usual isn’t working.”
Company leaders feared a feedback loop, according to people familiar with the matter, in which the incendiary events in Washington riled up already on-edge social-media users—potentially leading to more strife in real life.
It’s also possible, and this is my hypothesis, they had preconceived notions of the morality of President Trump and anyone who supports him. When they saw an upsurge in chatter that supported him they read any ambiguous, and perhaps even neutral, language as threatening. That is, there was a confirmation bias.
My evidence in support of this comes from the same article quoted above:
By Monday, Facebook said it would prohibit all content containing the phrase “stop the steal”—a slogan popular among Trump supporters who back his efforts to overturn the election—and that it would keep the emergency measures that it had activated the day of the Capitol assault in place through Inauguration Day.
“Stop the steal”? Really? That is the sole basis for banning a Facebook post?
These people need to be taught a lesson. A $51 billion lesson is a good start. Facebook has a Market Cap of about $717 B. Twitter about $37 B. When they’ve lost another combined $200 B (a third of their total value) then I’d be willing to consider the possibility they had learned the lesson.
The next time they come up with an excuse to ban people for engaging in innocent protected speech I would be inclined to see them on street corners holding signs that say, “Will code for food.”