I remember back in middle school when I would eagerly come home and run downstairs to log on to you. Those were the good old days, messaging my friends through you, ignoring the sea of invites I would get to play Farmville with friends and posting sad boy statuses so I would get attention from people who never talked to me in person. I remember the first time I was over broken up with was through your messenger app on Iphone.
Ah the memories.
Still, I can’t ignore the fact that the Facebook I grew up with is vastly different to the Facebook of today. This Facebook sells my data to agencies so they can target me for elections. This Facebook provided user data so that land lords could discriminate against anyone they choose (black people). This Facebook allows a psycho with a gun broadcast his killings to an audience before anything is done. The list goes on and on, one thing that Facebook especially comes under fire for is freedom of speech.
Freedom of speech and social media has often times taken the spotlight away from other issues this country is facing. Last year, republican lawmakers targeted Mark Zuckerberg for “anti-conservative,” bias by limiting conservative personalities like Diamond and Silk’s outreach. Zuckerberg even admitted that his company often finds it tough to distinguish what violates their guidelines and what doesn’t.
This sparked outrage from many free speech advocates to criticize the company and its decision to do so. Ben Shapiro and a number of other conservative and free speech advocates jumped to the defense of those banned. Despite Facebook and the myriad of other issues they’ve been suffering from lately, I have to say.
I agree with them on this issue.
If you join Facebook and then post insidious things on the platform or any platform that gives the privilege to be heard, you don’t deserve to use it. A lot of times we use freedom of speech as a counter argument to defend what we say, but that’s not how it works on Facebook or Twitter. These platforms are legally allowed to set the rules for how we interact with each other.
It’s clearly laid out in their community standards page:
In an effort to prevent and disrupt real-world harm, we do not allow any organizations or individuals that proclaim a violent mission or are engaged in violence, from having a presence on Facebook. This includes organizations or individuals involved in the following:
Mass or serial murder
Organized violence or criminal activity
We also remove content that expresses support or praise for groups, leaders, or individuals involved in these activities.
It took me five seconds to find that information and all I did was google it. I don’t think there is any doubt that all of these people and many people not included in this ban fit the second one clearly.
Farrakhan likened the Jewish community to a termite infestation last year. Laura Loomer, who was also included in the ban, hates Muslims. Yiannopolous led a vicious harassment campaign against Leslie Jones that ended up leaking private photos of her online. These people do not deserve to stay on Facebook. Jones and his organization constantly peddle false stories like ‘Pizzagate’ and that Sandy Hook was a hoax.
Are these really the people we want to defend?
Normally, I would agree that people should have the freedom to express themselves online. However, we know for a fact that these figures have inspired some of the worst attacks on people. Jones spread “Pizzagate” which inspired someone to walk into a pizzeria with an assault weapon and shoot the place up. That is real tangible violence that was inspired by the words online.
Free speech does not protect you if you are inciting violence. What Louis Farrakhan, Milo Yiannopoulos etc. did was filled with hate, often incited violence to minorities and more importantly didn’t offer anything productive to freedom of speech. It inspired the worst in people and did nothing but further divide those that consume their words. They’re hate mongers, not martyrs for a cause that has been echoed by people actually affected by oppression.
I will say that in the case of personalities like Diamond and Silk, the lines do start to get blurred. What constitutes unsafe content in their cases? From what I’ve seen, they’re just two women who support President Trump. In cases like this, I agree the guidelines need to be clearly defined for users. Facebook and Twitter play a massive part in today’s political landscape and there needs to be more accountability in how they manage these cases.
I think that Facebook and Twitter shouldn’t stop at Louis Farrakhan, they need to start removing more left-wing provocateurs like members of Antifa that use the site to troll the opposition and sometimes incite violence. For instance, I think that what Kathy Griffin did with a decapitated head of the president was completely within right of being banned. If you’re going to clean the slate, then wipe it completely of left and right wingers that violate your guidelines and incite hateful and violent acts against their targets.
Facebook and Twitter are not branches of the government and therefore do not have to abide by their rules. If you violate their terms and conditions, they are allowed to remove you. Facebook doesn’t have to protect your freedom of speech. They create and implement the rules and before you can even have an account on these platforms you have to agree to them.
Freedom of speech does not mean you can incite hate or violence on social media.
End of discussion.