What: An open letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg from America’s favorite patriotic curmudgeon, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.
Where: In the opinion pages of the New York Times—where else?
Why we love it: Because as fans of the long-departed West Wing, we miss fictional president Jed Bartlett’s impassioned calls to decency, and nobody needs a call to decency right now more than Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg. His interpretation of the First Amendment apparently includes defending on free speech grounds posting demonstrably false political ads on Facebook. Sorkin, like many reasonable people, has a problem with this.
Sorkin reminds readers (and Zuckerberg) that he wrote The Social Network under the watchful eye of legal teams from the studio and from Facebook with one goal in mind: “not to get sued by Mark Zuckerberg.” At one point, he was asked by lawyers if Harvard had to be called Harvard, and if Facebook had to be called Facebook.
So Facebook’s whole “let the people figure out what’s true” stance understandably rankles. “If I’d known you felt that way, I’d have had the Winklevoss twins invent Facebook,” he writes. With crystal-clear prose, he outlines, as Alexandria Ocasio Cortez did just a week earlier, the many flaws in Facebook’s position:
“Right now, on your website, is an ad claiming that Joe Biden gave the Ukrainian attorney general a billion dollars not to investigate his son. Every square inch of that is a lie, and it’s under your logo. That’s not defending free speech, Mark, that’s assaulting truth.
This can’t possibly be the outcome you and I want, to have crazy lies pumped into the water supply that corrupt the most important decisions we make together.”
Sorkin is on top of his game here speaking truth to power. Bartlett, C.J., Toby, and Sam would all be proud.