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Why Facebook Can’t Have It Both Ways

Facebook remained in Nancy Pelosi purgatory this week, as the Speaker of the House slammed Facebook for refusing to remove the doctored video that made her look drunk. Facebook held its ground.

As you can imagine, the chattering types in Silicon Valley have been busy spewing their opinions. There are essentially two opposing viewpoints: (1) free speech at all costs requires Facebook to keep it up or (2) Facebook is a service, it writes its own rules for what it wants on its service—aka, its terms of service which already police all kinds of content—and its shameful that they decided to keep this video up.

It won’t surprise you that I find problems with both arguments, although I can think of one solution that I am surprised hasn’t been proposed. I’ll get to that.

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If you want to take a principled stand on whether something should be on your service, do so. But don’t pretend that tuning a black box dial up or down a little allows you to have it both ways.