The Nov. 3 Globe editorial — and similar commentary from other media outlets critical of Facebook running political ads that contain lies — reminds me of the film “Casablanca,” when the police captain exclaims that he is “shocked, shocked” that gambling is taking place as he is handed his winnings (“Facebook should vet political ads or stop running them”).
Buried in the editorial, and downplayed as “unique rules,” is the fact that the Federal Communications Commission requires TV and radio stations to run political ads even if they contain lies and slander. Yes, there are caveats — only federal candidates, only within 90 days of an election, and only if the ad has proper disclaimers. But the bottom line is that broadcasters must let candidates run ads that lie to voters. Yet a media storm rages against Facebook for adopting a similar policy.
This lack of context suggests how cynical the media approaches the concept of truth in politics, as a weapon to bludgeon easy prey — Facebook.
This is not a defense of Facebook. Rather, it’s a plea to the Globe and other media outlets to hold everybody accountable for telling lies and half-truths. The sad fact is that our society tolerates lying from politicians and others. Condemning just one company for tolerating lies creates an illusion that we care about “truth.”