Last week, Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Peter Welch (D-V.T.), and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) penned a letter in an effort to pressure CEOs of Meta, Alphabet and Twitter to rehire recently laid off content moderation employees. In other words, Democrats want big tech companies to continue controversial content moderation regimes, regardless of whether they can afford the employees to do so.
In the letter, the senators cited a warning written by “several current and former employees from Meta’s trust and safety teams” who argued that “layoffs could weaken Meta’s response to viral election misinformation and foreign influence campaigns.” The letter relies on current and former Meta staffers’ assertion of their own indispensability. No one in any job would ever assert that they are disposable in their role, especially during a time of wide-scale layoffs in their sector. The Meta staffers that wrote this letter are either worried about getting fired or having recently been fired from their jobs. They either are afraid of layoffs or are disgruntled victims thereof. While we sympathize with their plight, they aren’t exactly unbiased.
Additionally, even the employees who actually worked within Meta’s content moderation division could not guarantee a weakening in Meta’s response to these threats as a result of the layoffs. They only stated that the “layoffs could [emphasis added] weaken Meta’s response to viral election misinformation and foreign influence campaigns.” The employees therefore recognize that Meta’s current policies may be sufficiently effective at tackling national security threats, even though they have a vested self-interest in stating otherwise. If the employees themselves cannot even confidently claim that they are truly necessary to combat these threats, Democratic senators should not assert that position for them.
Democratic senators should not feel entitled to interfere with any independent American company’s internal business practices. Their interference in these practices appears even more sinister when they seem intent on doing so in order to stifle and suppress American free speech online. Congress must steer clear of any proposal for a policy that taints the free and open discourse of Americans.