Senators Use Facebook Hearings To Set Mood For Greater Federal Internet Regulation and Censorship

The Senate moved with astounding speed in arranging this week’s Facebook “whistleblower” hearing. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) did his best in playing his role by calling the hearing Facebook’s “Big Tobacco Moment.” The entire process created an instant feedback loop about harm to children, steering sentiment straight toward overarching internet regulation and censorship by the federal government.  

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) took the narrative right to the end of the dial in the first minute of her “questioning.” She made a direct comparison between a claim that 13 percent of teen girl Instagram users are having suicidal thoughts and the “January 6 insurrection.” She also made sure to get back to referencing January 6 during her time on the clock.

“Whistleblower” Frances Haugen did not shy away from making several sweeping conclusions about Facebook’s failure to recognize adverse reactions by users, including cases of suicide, anorexia, and even unrest in Ethiopia. She added, “she takes on Facebook’s financial condition and earnings.”

The hearing participants drove the discussion about how Instagram and Facebook affect young girls. The effects of “negative social comparison” lead to multiple mental health issues. Those were amplified to set a tone for much greater involvement in all aspects of internet use by all Americans.

Haugen repeated several times that Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg use algorithms and machine intelligence to direct advertisements toward consumers. She emphasized the alleged mystery of algorithms, saying twice that “understanding” them is “difficult.” 

Most passing observers could have easily pointed out that for most members of the Senate, “understanding” anything more complicated than a dinner menu is “difficult.” In any event, the hearing is a solid preview of continuing efforts to convince Americans that Congresspeople should be the ones making critical and highly technical regulatory decisions about the driving force of the entire world’s economy.

It remains a virtual certainty that a Democratic Congress and the Biden White House will not do anything to materially impair the ability of their donor and supporter Zuckerberg to do business. Conservatives and any other disfavored internet user should be aware of what the Facebook hearing is pointed at accomplishing.