If news media coverage is anything to go by, the biggest drama on Netflix right now isn’t “Squid Game” but the internal company battle over Dave Chappelle’s comedy special. And what’s striking is how differently Netflix management has handled this free speech issue from how other tech executives—such as Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg—have handled similar content debates. (Tip of the hat to my colleague—The Information’s editor in chief, Jessica Lessin—for first raising this question).
Imagine if Chappelle’s routine was posted on Facebook as a video. Facebook would likely remove it, ruling that the jokes about trans people are hate speech, which the company defines as “harmful stereotypes, statements of inferiority, expressions of contempt, disgust or dismissal” against people based on characteristics including gender identity. Netflix, however, is keeping the program on the service, reflecting its commitment to “artistic expression and pleasing our members,” CEO Reed Hastings told employees, The New York Times reported today.