The latest outrage is apparently that Mark Zuckerberg is not willing to censor your Facebook posts. Which does raise the obvious question – why would you want Mark Zuckerberg to censor your Facebook posts? The specific subject is Holocaust Denial but that’s only a horse at the gates, not the underlying issue itself:
Mark Zuckerberg defended the rights of Facebook users to publish Holocaust denial posts, saying he didn’t “think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong”.
Even if they are intentionally getting it wrong, even if they’re lying through their teeth, so what?
Following outcry from groups including the Anti-Defamation League, Mr Zuckerberg subsequently clarified that he “absolutely didn’t intend to defend the intent of people who deny [the Holocaust]”.
And again, so what?
Now there are places – Germany and Austria come to mind – where Holocaust Denial is a criminal offence. I don’t agree that this should be so but do grok the historical reasons as to why it is. And this has been handled by internet companies before. It’s entirely legal to buy and sell Nazi memorabilia in the US, it isn’t in Germany. Thus the Yahoo pages upon which pinheads do so are not visible in Germany and are in the US.
Mark Zuckerberg has defended the rights of holocaust deniers to stay on Facebook – because they are being genuine.
The Facebook boss said that he found the belief that the holocaust did not happen was deeply offensive. But he said that the people using his site to promote should be allowed to use it and that the posts should stay up.
Nope, that’s not the correct reasons as to why people should be allowed to say it without being censored. Sincerity isn’t the point at all, free speech is.
One example, recently, is probably fact-checking. I don’t think that we should be in the business of having people at Facebook who are deciding what is true and what isn’t.
Now that is exactly the point. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere:
So what is fake news, and what is truth? Damore said something factually and scientifically true. The vast majority of the media decided it was false and labeled it so, and Damore got fired. The same company that fired Damore using the consensus of the media’s position to determine the truth is an amusing little coda to that, isn’t it?
The only way to really deal with this suppression of impolite, impolitic ideas is to learn that lesson of the First Amendment all over again. Everybody gets to say anything, and it’s up to us out here, adults and free people as we are, to sort out what’s true and what isn’t. Any system which suppresses the news is also going to end up enforcing, not challenging, current misconceptions that are widely believed. That journalism itself is so hugely biased as to cultural outlook just makes this worse, it doesn’t cause the basic problem in the first place.
When we have someone determining what is the truth that may be presented to the public then we’ve got that appalling problem of whose truth? The EU is good for Britain? Minimum wages don’t cause job losses? Free trade is a bad idea? Period poverty is a horror of the same magnitude as forced clitorectomies? All are things currently said in some circles, at least three of them are observably and empirically wrong. But who gets to decide who may say what and where?
So, remind me, why is it that Mark Zuckerberg should be entrusted with that task of deciding what the truth is?