By BOBBY HARR
Billionaire Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote an op-ed last week in the Washington Post calling for global government to ban together to regulate speech on the internet. This is not the first example of big tech companies reaching out for voluntary government intervention in their business to police online speech, as we have seen Twitter flirt with similar ideas.
The tech giant has faced recent scrutiny over content posted on their platform as well as their current removal process of “harmful” content. In an article published here on The Daily Noble just last week, I reported the following in the article titled “Censoring Big Tech: Facebook & Google Face Tough Crackdown.”
A European Union parliamentary committee, the Civil Liberties Committee passed a bill Monday—approved at 35 votes to 1(8 absentees), that would give these tech platforms just one hour to remove content deemed to be “extreme” by the Competent National Authority—or face heavy fines & penalties.
It’s understood that this was in Europe, but regardless—could Zuckerberg be cracking under pressure? Well, that’s one theory—though Zuckerberg didn’t seem to crack under pressure even slightly when he appeared in front of congress last year where he was grilled with questions regarding the companies use of data & privacy. After all, Facebook is worth half of a trillion dollars—surely, they have their own content moderators already, right? Yes, they do, and below I’ve provided a list of statistics regarding the lucrative content moderator position for Facebook, according to The Verge.
• There are an estimated 15,000 content moderators globally for Facebook.
• These content moderators do not directly work for Facebook—they work for an independent company, Cognizant, that is hired by Facebook for contract labor.
• Content moderators earn an average of $28,800 annually while the average Facebook employee earns $240,000 annually.
• Content moderators allegedly have their bathroom breaks strictly monitored at work.
• Many content moderators allegedly have suffered PTSD from the constant disturbing content they are tasked with monitoring.
• Many content moderators are allegedly frequently using drugs & alcohol at work in order to cope with the trauma of the mortifying content they view & harsh working conditions. This allegedly helps “numb the emotions” they feel as they make poverty level income to watch beheadings and read racial slurs all day.
These happy-go-lucky moderators, that work in a building where the turnover rate is higher than their manager—spend their days filtering through hate speech, graphic violence, child pornography, rape and other vile content. All of these are disgusting and evil, as well as presumably not pleasing to comb through for a living—but Zuckerberg assures these people hold an important & necessary position. If you can look past the disgraceful treatment of these poor employees, we all can pretty much agree entirely with Zuckerberg’s basic principle. Nobody wants to see that garbage and it should be removed.
But again, if these moderators are so valuable to Facebook, the question is obvious—why the huge gap in income between such an “essential” position for Facebook vs any regular schmuck working at Facebook? It’s simple, contract labor is cheaper. Much cheaper. They do this for the same reason that Uber drivers do not work for Uber—to avoid overhead costs and liability. You don’t need an economics degree to see through the smoke and mirrors. Facebook does not value the labor and skillset of content moderators and it’s clear. They find them to be a total burden, tasked with solving a problem that they wish did not exist. If this was untrue, Facebook would welcome them onboard as employees and pay them accordingly. They can more than afford to do so and keep this in house whilst maintaining American jobs. So, how all does Facebook benefit by outsourcing content moderators rather than adding them to payroll? Here’s a few ways:
• They get to pay an average annual cost for each moderator that is roughly 88% cheaper than their average payroll employee. The use of contract labor saves the company roughly $3,180,000,000 annually compared to bringing them on as employees.
• They avoid the cost of providing benefits.
• They avoid the cost of payroll.
• They avoid the liability employees carry.
Luckily, Zuckerberg has come up with a brilliant solution to exterminate all of the content moderators once and for all. What exactly is the Harvard graduate’s master plan to control what you post on Facebook?
The Government. More specifically, government regulation of all content.
Ahh, perfect! Besides, that $3.18 billion in savings wasn’t nearly enough to a man worth $66 billion, obviously. Let’s eliminate the entire cost of content moderation and turn every bit of it over to the government. First off, know that a company worth half a trillion dollars that gets in business with the government—is not losing money on that deal. These exorbitantly large companies with quarterly earnings reports that are nothing shy of a shareholder’s wet dream— already do their due diligence to dodge every tax possible, and they certainly are not going to hand over access of their private business to the government unless the pot is rich. On top of this, Zuckerberg washes his hands with any liability going forward. No contract labor, no liability, he’s free and clear—and richer than before. Perhaps he even will jump a few spots on the Forbes billionaire list.
Zuckerberg wasn’t specific in his Washington Post op-ed on what exactly the government’s regulation would entail for the social giant, leaving it at a vague “Harmful content: Holding companies & users accountable for propaganda, hate speech and more.”
Now, take a moment and do me a favor—I would like for you to put every ounce of bias you possess, every isolated personal incident(s) you’ve ever experienced and every last knee-jerk reaction you may have to this question, aside. Take a breath and answer this question truthfully to yourself.
Are you comfortable with the idea of a billionaire CEO giving the government full access & permission to regulate your personal content, while it makes him richer? This would include deleting of posts, suspensions, permanent bans, etc. Full on regulation from Uncle Sam. There have been no specifics given as to what the government would allow to be published on Facebook and what they would remove—deeming it “harmful content” at their standards. Their standards, whatever those are. If we use the trends we have seen recently on Twitter, we can estimate that it would be primarily conservative voices being banned on a government-ran Facebook as the two social media giants are greatly in correlation on their political views, which are undoubtedly liberal biased.
But WAIT, wait—wait—wait—has everybody forgotten about the first amendment. You know, the one granting everyone the right to free speech? Whether online falls into a different category, legally—based on some loophole or not, there is something extremely disturbing about the idea of our government controlling what we say on Facebook whilst claiming to uphold the constitution.
Look, I understand that these companies are private companies that can do as they please, but government intervention in their business in an unconstitutional way such as this is another total extreme.
Why should we allow the government, which is comprised of elected officials with extreme political bias—to regulate the content of the people on a social platform that has such a massive impact on the elections which put them into office in the first place? This are the same elected officials that are tasked with upholding the constitution, under any circumstances whilst doing their jobs. Many of us learned early in grade school a very simple lesson on US government. There are things the government can do, there are things the government can’t do. Things that they cannot do are referred to as “unconstitutional” meaning it does not comply with one or more of the amendments of the United States Constitution. This all sounds like a scam to me.
Regardless of the impact, Zuckerberg could certainly care less. He is in full support of government regulation in his business and for obvious reasons. No matter what moral reason Zuckerberg may spew as to why he’s proposing such a bold move, know that his motives are entirely driven by money and accountability.
Anybody that knows a shred about Zuckerberg’s history, namely regarding the founding of Facebook—knows that Mark Zuckerberg is not a man driven by morality and ethics at all.
He certainly did not become worth $66 billion dollars by helping an old lady cross the street, and he certainly is not proposing a government raid on his monopoly social media business out of the goodness of his heart.
Image source: https://awesome98.com/for-the-1000th-time-stop-sharing-the-fake-message-about-facebook-charging-people/