Of course, the immediate concern for many internet users is whether this “standardized approach” would include political censorship, and whether the idea of “harmful” content includes the nearly endless array of topics people online now find offensive.
It’s because of incidents like this that conservatives are often wary when people like Zuckerberg start talking about new controls on what can and cannot be said on his platform—let alone for the entire internet.
This is likely where the internet is heading. It’s a new direction of global “intranets” where each country has its own separate infrastructure, and its own regulations; and where companies need to tiptoe around a kaleidoscope of laws and offenses of each respective country in order to run their websites without getting sanctioned.
And sanctions on websites are what Zuckerberg seems to be talking about. As Zuckerberg proposes in his op-ed, the new regulations “should establish a way to hold companies such as Facebook accountable by imposing sanctions when we make mistakes.”
Of course, it’s easy for people like Zuckerberg to call for such things. Massive companies like Facebook could absorb the costs of sanctions without going under, and they also have the staff and finances to implement complex nation-by-nation censorship codes—down to algorithms to check each post. But most other platforms don’t have these resources.
Much of this ties to encroaching centralization and to the new socialist fascination that the new left has fallen into.
Yet these changes also highlight one of the major issues with socialist centralization overall. Vast regulations and high taxes typically don’t affect the folks at the top or bottom of society. More often, it’s the people in the middle who pay the price. And it’s the internet companies in the middle that would likely go under if Zuckerberg got his regulatory wish.
Under such systems, online forums could be held liable in different countries for the political opinions of their users. Independent news sites could go out of business for reporting stories outside the established narrative. And even individuals posting their opinions on websites like Twitter and Facebook could find themselves talking to authorities about their web-based “thoughtcrimes.”
In China, this is already the reality for businesses and internet users; in Europe, it is rapidly becoming the reality; and in the United States, there are groups and businesses looking to make it a reality.