Jim Jordan (R-OH) has some complaints about Threads, the newly launched social media app that is challenging Twitter.
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If Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) really feels strongly that the government should not be involved in how social media companies run their businesses or what content they should or shouldn’t display on their platforms, he has a funny way of showing it.
On Monday, he sent a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg regarding the company’s new “Threads” social media app… and he did all of those things.
In Jordan’s defense, these are thorny issues. Social media platforms do incredible harm by not only spreading misinformation but, in many cases, steering users toward such content to keep them “engaged” longer.
It is very clear that these websites and apps have had a detrimental impact on society, and Zuckerberg’s Facebook is one of the main culprits.
In addition, many of them operate as near monopolies, and there is very limited government oversight.
Does that mean that the solution to these problems is that the government should decide which content can be displayed and which cannot?
That is clearly also not the way.
However, that is essentially what Jordan is doing by trying to bully Zuckerberg.
And, based on his letter, he does it, at least in part, to help Elon Musk, the right-wing owner of Twitter.
What Jordan is complaining about is that Threads, the newly launched social media app that is challenging Twitter, is already “censoring” content.
Citing Meta’s track record of acquiescing to government demands to remove certain information from its websites, Jordan writes that his committee “is concerned about potential First Amendment violations that have occurred or will occur on the Threads platform.”
As the chairman of the Judiciary Committee should know, the First Amendment applies to government censorship and does not prohibit individuals, companies, and organizations from restricting speech.
Therefore, Jordan is sending this letter to the wrong place.
In addition, the “censorship” that he is referencing isn’t censorship at all. The evidence the lawmaker provides is Threads asking users if they really want to follow an account known for spreading misinformation or that belongs to someone who has violated the company’s community standard in the past.
That seems like a fair question. And, in the screenshot Jordan references, it is quite clear that the user has the option of still following that account.
That’s not censorship on any level.
However, the next line in Jordan’s letter gets to the heart of the matter, which, as it turns out, isn’t censorship at all.
“Indeed, Threads raises serious, specific concerns because it has been marketed as rival of Elon Musk’s Twitter, which has faced political persecution from the Biden Administration following Musk’s commitment to free speech,” Jordan wrote.
Well, well, well… who is taking sides now and trying to engage in political persecution by sending an ominous letter to the head of a company that competes with an ideologically aligned business?
Jim Jordan, that’s who.
Musk has transformed Twitter into a right-wing social media platform. He has paid a price for doing so (quite literally), but a few billion dollars more or less don’t make much of a difference to him. In any case, shaping speech in a way that suits his personal beliefs is much more valuable.
As the owner of Twitter, that is absolutely his prerogative. Musk is not violating anybody’s First Amendment rights by promoting his right-wing views.
But, unlike Zuckerberg, he will never draw the ire of congressional Republicans and receive vaguely threatening letters.
That’s because Musk is using Twitter the right way, and, with Jordan, he will always have an ally in government who will help him stay the course… even by trying to intimidate the competition.