Instagram Shows Us Once Again That Social Media Is Dedicated To Rigging Public Debate And Discourse To Ensure Progressive Policies

But conservatives are the autocrats and fascists.

This thoughtful and provocative cartoon by Adam Ford, the founder of the  conservative satire site, The Babylon Bee, was banned as “hate speech” by Instagram:

Observations:

1. Blaming this on a flawed algorithm won’t wash. Yes, it is difficult to write programs to identify genuine non-substantive speech designed only to insult denigrate or defend, and this means that a fair and competent social media platform must lean toward being over-permissive rather than unjustly and illogically censorious.

2. Obviously, the cartoon doesn’t qualify as hate speech even under the vaguest and most sweeping definition of a term that is too flexible anyway. The comparison between slavery and abortion isn’t new, and it keeps arising because abortion advocates have yet to rebut it. Both issues involve what one side believes is a human rights violation that is defended by denying the humanity of the victims, or arguing that the abuse of the victims is justified by the benefits to those abusing them. The analogy has been raised in films (such as “The Island”) and television (as on a memorable episode of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The cartoon could be and should be used in classroom discussions on the question of abortion.

3. For that to happen, however, people have to see it, and be allowed to think. Social media, when it censors speech and opinion that offend the sensibilities of the “woke” simply because such speech challenge progressive ideology and cant, isn’t “protecting its users.” It is protecting its allies from having to prevail in policy debates with facts, logic and ethics by bluntly silencing dissent. This is becoming a bad and frightening habit. In his new book “”A Thousand Small Sanities,” liberal commentator David Gropnik writes, “The contemporary left can sometimes seem to have an insufficient respect for the fragility of the very same liberal institutions that allow its views to be broadcast without impediments.” Ya think??

4. Meanwhile, the controversy isn’t being covered by the mainstream media at all, at least not yet. Thus other institutions are enabling social media’s content-based ideological censorship by not publicizing it. All the better to have the metaphorical frog of the American public boiled slowly in progressive censorship before they know what’s going on. (Yes, you pedants out there, I know that you can’t really boil a frog to death slowly, but that’s the old myth.)

5. One overly kind Christian website tried to come up with ways Instagram might have legitimately concluded that the cartoon was hate speech:

There is another possible reason Instagram flagged Ford’s post in question. Throughout the comic, which equivocates old hypothetical pro-slavery arguments with modern pro-choice rhetoric, Ford refers to black people as “blacks” — a term often flagged as offensive, though some style guides do permit “black” to be used as a noun as well as an adjective. While Instagram does not specifically forbid the use of “black” as a noun in their community guidelines, it does require users to only “post photos and videos that are appropriate for a diverse audience.”

Even accepting this theory, the censorship is unethical and ominous. So if “some people” find a term that is generally accepted elsewhere as “offensive,” that justifies banning a substantive message? It is still oppressive speech policing no matter how one looks at it.

23 thoughts on “Instagram Shows Us Once Again That Social Media Is Dedicated To Rigging Public Debate And Discourse To Ensure Progressive Policies

  1. Is Facebook still banning posts from EthicsAlarms?

    This post alarmed me more than most, so I tried to post a link to it on Facebook and it seems to have worked, whereas in the past links were blocked.

  2. It is amazing to see the arrogance of progressives. They really believe that the standards* they set today will never be used against them when the wind blows from a different quarter. I mean, it isn’t as if the alt right has not already been adopting progressive methods, if as if Congress has weaponized the ‘nuke’ option to the detriment of progressive agendas.

    “Thinking themselves wise, they became fools”

    *yeah, I know: what standards?

  3. Social media censorship is a knotty problem. Current Constitutional law provides no remedy, and it’s hard to see how the two parties could ever pass a bill that regulates them sensibly.

    Even the antitrust laws seem a vastly inferior solution, since breaking up the companies would have no measurable impact on their censorship — the leadership of all of them have the same political bent. They would simply act like a cartel, without even having to become one — pretty much just like they do now.

    But if something is not done, it’s possible that these Leftist Internet tycoons will bring down the entire country and convert it into some kind of Eurosocialist totalitarian banana republic that precipitates another civil war.

    I wish I had a solution, but I can’t think of a thing. Perhaps the old “Fairness Doctrine” that the Left wanted to bring back before Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube became dominant players in the US communications market would work. But you don’t hear them advocating for that anymore, now that their ideology dominates political media utterly.

    • I think you’re right about no action. The democrats benefit from nothing but fawning coverage in nearly all news, in academia, Hollywood and the music industry. They have no interest in restrictions on their growing control over the internet.

      I’m not so convinced about their success though. I think it will backfire. Google and Facebook think they ‘failed’ in 2016. I expect they will try much harder in 2020 and it will alienate far too many to be successful. People will find a way around and the credibility of all the ways the democrats own the airways will continue to sink like a rock.

        • A course-correction/hard-reset is nigh. Hopefully, we won’t have to live through some kind of Dark Age before things get more or less back to normal.

          • If you believe this to be true, I would suggest the three ‘B’s: Bullets, Bandages and Beans.

            Beans: It is prudent to have around three months reserve food, in a stable configuration, at all times anyway. A little research and a couple of extra cans each time you shop will start the build up without costing significant dollars.

            Bandages: first aid kits are always a good idea, and can be enhanced with other first aid items like extra Tylenol or Advil on hand, a CAT tourniquet, and so on.

            Bullets: obvious. Too bad I lost all my guns in that tragic boating accident a couple of months ago!

    • Therein lies the problem: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and the like are private entities not subject to the constraints of the First Amendment. The Left knows this and the Left uses it to bludgeon its opponents into submission. Look at what Amazon has done: it has removed from its online book buying store all books written or published by Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, a proponent of gay conversion therapy, because of the protests of Rojo Alan. Here is a link celebrating the action in an online site called Pink News:

      https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2019/07/03/amazon-stopped-selling-gay-cure-books-joseph-nicolosi/

      Here is another link to Breitbart:

      https://www.breitbart.com/tech/2019/07/08/amazon-bans-conversion-therapy-books/

      Disagree with Nicolosi all you want – I am skeptical of his theories and his supposed treatment, too. More importantly, I couldn’t care less about his theories so I have no interest in reading anything he writes. However, the removal shows the power of the Left in stifling speech. The government can’t force Amazon to sell the books. The government can’t even force Amazon to change its content policies. However, private, activists and groups put enough pressure on Amazon and it caved in, just as Nike caved into Kaepernick’s complaints about a stupid pair of shoes with the Betsy Ross Flag on the heel. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have nebulous policy statements regulating what is posted and what is seen. They can remove anything they want because of some vague violation of the terms of service and the users are fairly powerless to do anything about it.* Witness Facebook’s banning of Ethics Alarms posts.

      Dennis Prager and Prager University have taken YouTube to court over because YouTube decreed that Prager University’s five minute videos extolling conservatism and limited government violate their terms of service. I don’t know what YouTube’s defenses are, but the videos are well done and are informative, where Prager brings in people to talk about any topic they want. He has had Allan Dershowitz talk about the First Amendment, Candace Owens talk about race issues, etc. Prager’s argument is interesting: he is asserting that, by taking the unilateral action banning or covering up his videos, as well as omitting his videos from online searches, YouTube is no longer a platform but is exercising quasi-governmental powers that constitute content-based censorship. I think he has survived summary judgment but I am not sure. If the court rules that YouTube is no longer a distributor or a platform, it may have real problems with libel laws (defamation and slander come to mind). I suspect the ACLU will come to YouTube’s defense.

      jvb

      *Ed. Note: Did anyone catch this week’s episode of “The Good Fight”? It is an awful show: Awful plots, awful characters, awful staging, awful courtroom dramas, and awful acting (especially from Christine Baranski who show only play Dr. Beverly Hofstadter on “The Big Bang Theory” as that role is perfect for her emotional depth and lack of acting ability. Sorry.) Well, Sunday’s episode had a bunch of lawyers sitting around a table discussing their client’s online content policies, trying to determine whether certain posts violated the policy. Only one lawyer in the who crew thought banning offensive posts was tantamount to censorship. The rest thought the client was within in its rights to do so, when most of the banable posts were from right of center/conservative posters. After about 10 minutes of that torture, I decided that having an aneurysm would be more fun so I turned it off and watched Mexico play the US in the CONCACAF Copa de Oro – not as much fun as an aneurysm but I save a fortune on medical bills not covered by my Affordable Care Act insurance policy.

  4. Just tried to share this post on FB and got the following message:
    “URL Blocked: Could not scrape URL because it has been blocked.”
    The struggle continues!

  5. This is the problem with the growing predominance of AI. It infers from content who and what does and will violate terms of service. In effect it bans permanently unless humans rewrite the inference engine algorithms.

    I disagree with Glenn on anti-trust effects on censorship. Any addition of human heterogeneity will likely begin to break down the left’s monolithic control of speech via its private network platforms. It is not an automatic fix, but it is a likely longer term one.

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