Are We Certain We Want Facebook Censoring Our World?

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It is entirely true that a private economic actor can carry – or not carry – whatever information it likes on its website. We here can, for example, can continue to insist that free markets are a pretty shit hot manner of organising the world whatever Owen Jones and his cohorts of Looney Tunes might think. The Tre Professori can continue to ban anyone who has the temerity to disagree with the pronouncements that constitute the Sagacity of Ely.

That’s how we gain free speech after all. Yet there’s still more than that soupcon of a whiff of concern over this:

Facebook has removed a page belonging to David Icke after social media platforms came under pressure for giving a platform to the conspiracy theorist, whose bogus messages about Covid-19 have continued to gain viewers.

A page belonging to the former footballer was removed for repeatedly violating Facebook’s policies on harmful misinformation, the company said on Friday.

Of course Icke is a loon and no, this is not some grand truth being suppressed which we’ll all find out later should not have been.

And yet there is still that soupcon – certain things are now not sayable in the public square. While it remains Icke, or the idea that Hillary is a viable candidate, that can’t be said then, well, pretty much so what, right?

But who is deciding what may not be said? Actually, it’s the usual group of lefites and statists. Us rightie types don’t join the sort of committees that advise the peeps at Facebook. That is, the things that can’t be said are at least beginning to include things that don’t meet with the approval of that liberal and progressive consensus.

It wouldn’t surprise at all to find that, soon enough if not already, statements like “higher minimum wages cost jobs” or “grievance studies degrees are not investment” are statements that are misleading and so may not be said in that public square.

Given that it’s private property Facebook can indeed publish whatever the hell it pleases. But there is still that whiff that we’re getting censorship by intellectual fashion through this back door.

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Bloke on M4bloke in spainDavid MooreCharlesChester Draws Recent comment authors
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Pat
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Pat

Seems to me that social media companies are being allowed to have It both ways. They claim to be neutral carriers taking no responsibility for the content and also control the content. They need to be forced to decide. Either they are neutral carriers and neither control nor take responsibility for content, that responsibility being borne by the content providers who would need to be identifiable. Or they are publishers controlling and taking responsibility for content. It is not a good idea to impose the same structure in all, but make each choose one way or the other.

Spike
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Spike

This exactly was the basis for Congressional hearings last year: Social media’s desire to have it both ways, to select one of two legal paradigms on a case-by-case basis.

Charles
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Charles

Well, it would be nice if they could choose, but effectively they cannot, as seen in the story of backpage.com which got seized and some of the people behind it got convicted of charges which ultimately were based on the company supporting free speech (allowing advertisments for sexual services, in particular). So realistically, Facebook has no choice. Either impose censorship or grounds will be found to attack it. Note that as a company with bilions of dollars per year in turnover, it is very vulnerable to greed – even greed in the form of “fines”.

Spike
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Spike

“Conspiracy” posts that, say, Coronavirus is not the plague, posts that contradict the basis for all our current loss of liberty, are vital to rein the government back in toward sensibility, though in this case it didn’t work.

Facebook didn’t “censor,” but in some cases there were officials of state governments demanding that Facebook take down posts on the basis that they encouraged civil disobedience (“during a crisis,” there, that sounds better).

TD
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TD

I think I’ll come down on the side that a private entity has the right to remove what it doesn’t like. That seems a pretty basic freedom, even if you may disagree with those practicing that freedom. It also doesn’t appear that conservative thought or expression is being successfully repressed. Certainly there are attempts, and there may be environments where it has been successfully repressed such as at many universities, but generally it seems alive and kicking and putting up a fight against the loony left. Consider how the white working class has woken up to the notion that the… Read more »

Mohave Greenie
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Mohave Greenie

TD, you need to go read what Pat published above. Platforms like Facebook and YouTube use different parts of the law when it fits their business plan. They are an open platform when it comes to libel law and their responsibility for what is on their site, taking safe harbor for mere carriers of information. They are a private publisher when it comes to removing content they diapprove of, in direct contravention of the open platform laws.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

“But who is deciding what may not be said? Actually, it’s the usual group of lefites and statists. Us rightie types don’t join the sort of committees that advise the peeps at Facebook. That is, the things that can’t be said are at least beginning to include things that don’t meet with the approval of that liberal and progressive consensus. It wouldn’t surprise at all to find that, soon enough if not already, statements like “higher minimum wages cost jobs” or “grievance studies degrees are not investment” are statements that are misleading and so may not be said in that… Read more »

Spike
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Spike

The Soviet Union did collapse on the weight of its own awfulness. A US business is not that awful. Facebook will hire cronies and waste person-years fighting microagressions but still bathe in money. The TV networks are rotting but still in business after decades of practicing + preaching leftism. What will kill Facebook is what killed CompuServe and Myspace: Something better will come along.

David Moore
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David Moore

“Something better will come along.”

The American Defamation League are going after Steam (the games platform) as being an unregulated space that is out of control. It’s those sorts of spaces people are migrating too and the left will hunt them down with all the energy they can

David Moore
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David Moore

Yes. Those on the left are great at taking over existing institutions and corrupting them to their own goals. It’s an obsession for them.

People on the right are generally too busy getting on with their own lives to take much notice until it is too late.

Bloke on M4
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Bloke on M4

I don’t think it works for long, though, because it’s like a cancer. Eventually, it kills the host. The value of a degree or the name of a charity depends on people seeing that it means something. If your degree courses are basically worthless, the organisation becomes worthless.

jgh
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jgh

But is facebook a publisher or a telephone network? I’d say it’s a telephone network.

Chester Draws
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Chester Draws

When was the last time Icke had a phone call stopped for being wrong, do you think?

I suppose they’re like a phone service in the Soviet Union or modern China. Always someone listening and reporting.

David Moore
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David Moore

It’s a phone network where everyone can eaves drop and many people want to control what everyone is saying. The technology has actually enabled the semi-practicality of achieving this.

David Moore
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David Moore

Google and Facebook are having their cake, and eating it too. They avoid a huge amount of regulation by claiming to being nothing more than a carrier like a phone network, yet then also bend to a lot of pressure to enact editorial controls to those who have influence over them.

The truth is they have far too much concentrated power for all the various interest groups not to seek to co-op it.

bloke in spain
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bloke in spain

The social media companies are sewing the seeds of their own destruction. The more they skew towards the liberal left he more they alienate the conservative right. The more they alienate the conservative right the less the conservative right will use them.* Ultimately what pays for them is companies selling stuff to consumers. And it’s eventually going to occur to companies that the liberal left aren’t particularly heavy consumers of stuff compared with the conservative right. And question the wisdom of financing organisations opposed to what they do. *I certainly wouldn’t claim to be conservative right but my Farcebook account… Read more »