Want Facebook to censor speech? Be careful what you wish for

“The only figure as capable as Donald Trump of spinning up an instant and frantic media cycle these days is Mark Zuckerberg, whose ubiquitous company can’t manage not to trend on its own platform,” Antonio García Martínez writes for Wired. “This time the trigger was a long and enlightening interview with the probing Kara Swisher, in which Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s refusal to censor Holocaust deniers. His full-throated defense of free speech triggered a tizzy of debate among journalists — many of whom were rather less enthused with the idea of granting anti-Semites a globe-spanning platform.”

“This tangled and expansive Facebook free-speech debate actually comes down to one core issue: There are two definitions of “hate speech,” one legal and the other more vernacular. Which one we accept is the question,” Martínez writes. “Hate speech, much like insider trading, is a concept with a narrow legal definition, though it comes loaded with moral meaning and a common understanding that’s considerably broader.”

“In the US, hate speech is defined by relevant case law as speech ‘inciting imminent lawless action’ (Brandenburg v. Ohio, 1969),’ Martínez writes. “The key point is that free speech can be abrogated only when someone will suffer real (not imagined) violence as a result. In the United States of America, you are free to scream racial epithets or float conspiracy theories until you’re blue in the face, but the moment you organize a mob, down comes the rough hand of the law. Land of the free, indeed (and then some).”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

• I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. ― S. G. Tallentyre (Evelyn Beatrice Hall)

• The concept of “microaggression” is just one of many tactics used to stifle differences of opinion by declaring some opinions to be “hate speech,” instead of debating those differences in a marketplace of ideas. To accuse people of aggression for not marching in lockstep with political correctness is to set the stage for justifying real aggression against them. ― Thomas Sowell

• If we don’t believe in free expression for people we despise, we don’t believe in it at all. — Noam Chomsky

29 Comments

  1. If you need to use Facebook to teach you about the holocaust, you had a very liberal education that taught very little history.

    I don’t go to Facebook for opinions or facts. There are better sources.

    1. I’m not disagreeing with your sentiments, but I think it’s important to keep in mind that an ever-increasing number of people use Facebook (and late-night comedians as well as TV shows such as The View) for their SOLE source of “news”. Based on that, I think hope is diminishing for us as a species.

    2. On the contrary, if you had a liberal education you would know implicitly that one source for news or opinion is useless, self-defeating and an insult to said education.
      You are confusing the narrow American political interventionist meaning with the much broader aspects of a word with its roots in liberty ~ liber or ‘free’ which, educationally would mean and did in my case, less restrictions, a broader curriculum, far less attainment level monitoring and much more self determination.
      Quite the opposite of narrow-minded gullibility in fact.

      1. “if you had a liberal education you would know implicitly that one source for news or opinion is useless, self-defeating and an insult to said education”

        That was true in the 1950s to the eighties. Once the liberal teacher unions took over and started indoctrination of political correctness, revising American history, deemphasize religion and individual beliefs, gave out participation trophies — those teachings went bye, bye for good.

        Bo is correct they teach very little history.

        I’ll be glad to insult education all day long as long it is held hostage by the Democratic Party. We spend twice as much money on education than the closest G8 nation and for decades money wasted on the lowest test scores. And bad teachers with tenure are impossible to fire. Here’s hoping President Trump signs a similar bill as he did with the VA to fire underperforming executives and workers regardless of tenure. Drain the education swamp …

        1. It seems you missed the class about “It’s OK to be different”. Since you seem to be struggling to catch up…it included self awareness, empathy, open-ness to new ideas and ways of thinking, tolerance, generosity, the idea that you should never stop learning and an understanding of the concept of doubt, particularly regarding self.
          All good liberal stuff that keeps you honest, sane and informed.
          You should try it.
          It’s not too late.

          1. Your post is a volume of liberal pablum, PC dogma and idealism. Will take it one at a time.

            “It’s OK to be different”.

            What difference would that be? All students have the same rights, nothing new.

            “Since you seem to be struggling to catch up…”

            No struggle here.

            “it included self awareness, empathy, open-ness to new ideas and ways of thinking, tolerance, generosity”

            And participation trophies. How wonderful.

            “the idea that you should never stop learning and an understanding of the concept of doubt, particularly regarding self.”

            So teachers are now psychologists? Never “stop learning” is as old as the hills. Nothing new and NOT EXCLUSIVE to liberals.

            “All good liberal stuff that keeps you honest, sane and informed.”

            Liberals honest!?! Liberals sane!?! Liberals inform!?! Wow. Those idealistic days were decades ago, no longer hold true and long done. Time to wake up to reality …

  2. “Want Facebook to censor speech?”
    I want them to do whatever they think they want to do as a business. If that includes censoring, don’t think I’d care. Then again, I don’t get my jollies trolling. 🙂

    1. “I want them to do whatever they think they want to do as a business.”

      So you are saying you have no problem with censorship? Ok, would you prefer censorship of conservatives or liberals, or BOTH?

      Obvious you have not been paying attention to recent Fakebook censorship lately …

      1. I don’t care who in the world they censor. I know some weak minded folks think that Facebook is the entire internet, but there are LITERALLY BILLIONS of other places to post your point of view. If your ideas are sound, as most conservative ideas are, then you’ll get a following. Only the weak need Facebook.

        Or, the weak can draw a page from the liberal playbook and complain about how badly and unfairly getting treated by the big bad company and hopefully the government will step in, because more government is ALWAYS the answer, right? No, I haven’t been paying attention, sounds like liberal bellyaching. If the concern is just some more conSnowflake complaining, then please, PLEASE censor that whining. I don’t want anyone equating “WAAH, I’m not getting my way and I’m powerless to do anything about it” with conservative viewpoints.

  3. The solution for bad speech is not censorship but MORE SPEECH. In order for a free society to have an open exchange of ideas we unfortunately need to endure the unpopular, minority, fringe views even though we may find them abhorrent. It is a slippery slope once we start drawing lines about who gets to speak and depriving people of agency simply because we think they’re completely wrong and we disagree with them.

    1. The cornerstone of the First Amendment protects all speech even if unpopular. Very obvious Fakebook has forgotten the Constitution and practices censorship that denigrates the right. I recently canceled my account…

      1. Try reading the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution: “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.” Judicial precedent has extended the prohibition to the Executive and Judicial Branches. The 14th Amendment further extended it to state and local governments. Not a word in there about Facebook or any other private party. If the President, Congress, or courts were to require Facebook to broadcast messages with which it disagrees, that would violate the Constitution, not uphold it.

        1. “Not a word in there about Facebook or any other private party.“

          First off Fakebook is NOT a private party. They are a publicly traded company practicing censorship. Get a grip …

        2. According to the United States Supreme Court, publicly traded corporations do, in fact, enjoy the same Constitutional protections as other private (i.e. non-governmental) parties, including the right to free political expression (Citizens United) and freedom of religion (Hobby Lobby). They can, therefore, engage in what you choose to call “censorship” to their heart’s desire.

          Just because a person or a corporation owns a megaphone doesn’t mean they have to loan it, or even rent it, to speakers with whom they disagree. That is simply controlling their own message. If Congress passed a law that required megaphone owners to facilitate messages they find abhorrent, it would be unconstitutional.

            1. Stop embarrassing yourself Goeb. You are so hellbent on being argumentative that you have lost the plot. TxUser has never implied the words you are now trying to stick in his mouth.

              What you fail to understand is that the constitution, for the most part, defines only the basic framework and limitations on how the federal government is to operate — the framers intentionally left it to future generations to evolve and fill in the needs with federal, state, and local laws. The constitution guarantees nothing about your personal speech, or the power of a large well funded organization to bombard the airways in ways that the writers of the constitution could never have dreamed. (multinational corporations, radio, TV, and internet not having quite hit the colonies in full force yet in 1776).

              Hence, thanks to a liberal constitution that gives wide silent openings for fee will to be exercised by companies and individuals, it is obvious that freedom of speech AND censorship falls to lower regulations, most of which has only very low standards of conduct and is seldom enforced except by lawsuits. MDN selectively censors on their little website.
              Apple, Facebook and other companies censor on their networks.
              If you were to be interviewed on Fox News and you started shouting obscenities, they would censor your ass too.

              So the problem is that you don’t seem to comprehend what the constitution does, you don’t understand or appreciate the necessity of regulation at any other governmental level, and you selectively cheer for the all-powerful corporation or the lowly individual citizen willy nilly as the wind blows.

              The laws of free speech, lobbying, and political electioneering are a disgrace, some would say, but since you hate all regulation, it probably will never be made honest and transparent. The deepest pockets win almost anywhere they want. They get the falsehoolds and scary propaganda in front of your nose, and you lap it up. You don’t read peer-reviewed scientific journals, or translate foreign objective reporting. You inject pre-canned narratives that tell you to be fearful and feisty, to divide the nation into distracted bickering idiots so profiteers can make hay with the public good while the citizens are fighting each other.

              Here’s just one obvious big example: why do people like you deny climate change while the evidence is in your face every day? Because free speech granted to corporations by LACK OF REGULATION has allowed the fossil fuel industries to bombard you with billions of dollars more FUD than any scientist or farmer ever could. https://arstechnica.com/science/2018/07/the-industries-lobbying-congress-most-on-climate-wont-surprise-you/

              Then you blame scientists for fake news when the news media is owned by the likes of the Koch brothers, Murdoch, Mercer, and other ultra conservative political entities. They are the ones who twist your mind, not “the liberals”. The few remaining hippie liberals have no political power, they are busy making money selling weed in Colorado. The bigger divide in America is rich and poor — and sorry to break it to you, but you’re slipping downward on the curve. Everyone but a few thousand people are getting relatively poorer while the top 1% gerrymanders their way into even more obscene wealth, which they “invest” overseas opposite the patriotic image they claim. How much money does Trump have parked overseas right now? You tell us, why don’t you….

            2. Listen pal, do not tell me what to do or put words in my mouth. You accused of doing so and turn around and do the exactly the same several times. There is a word for that: hypocrite. I don’t feel like taking the time to refute all the liberal fiction in your post. But I will say glad I got you worked up …

          1. Whoa!
            Wait just one dang cotton picking minute there…

            Questionable as Hobby Lobby and citizens United are (questionable meaning bullshit) they apply to a corporations own position. Imposing that position though censorship, upon others, is another matter. Barring censorship is not a 1st Amendment imposition. Facebooks rights end where the users begins.

            Facebook is a communication platform, rights aside, censorship restricts what they sell. But I digress. If Facebook were a phone company, like AT&T, could hey still censor as you say? Why can’t AT&T bleep speech if it technologically could?

            You can somehow try to make the argument that in both cases the company owns their network, and can thus impose terms…..

            But you would be making an incomplete assumption. The customer owns the device used to access those networks. That confers rights.

            Would I absolve Facebook from libel and slander they didn’t commit, but in their network? Of course, as long as they didn’t purposely aid and abet. They are no more liable than the phone company being responsible for a drug deal being phoned in. If they however materially participate in questionable behavior, especially if they profit from it, they should be held liable for that behavior.

  4. Holocaust denial is a criminal offence in Germany and is taken very seriously for obvious reasons. The German Justice Ministry have already warned Zuckerberg that “What Mark Zuckerberg wishes or demands for the American or international market is not possible in Germany”.

    Social media platforms like Facebook must remove such offensive content in accordance to the NetzDG, Germany’s hate speech law, either by deleting or blocking it.

    I would also add that German schoolchildren are required to be taken to visit former concentration camps so that there can be no doubt whatsoever about what happened about 75 years ago. My wife was born and educated in Germany and she will always remember that day when they visited Buchenwald and were told about the horrors that went on in the exact place where they were standing, just a 15 minute drive from the beautiful city where their school was.

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