Facebook has banned right-wing activists Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, Joseph Watson, white supremacist Paul Nehlen, Jones’s company, Infowars, and Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
And yes, it is unethical. And frightening. The irony is that Facebook says that the ideas promoted by these mostly fringe figures are “dangerous.” Nothing any of them say or write are anywhere nearly as dangerous as promoting censorship based on content and political viewpoint.
It doesn’t matter that all of the political and opinion figures Facebook banned from its two social media platforms are assholes, bigots and hate-mongers—I can’t say for sure that all of them are, since I only bump into any of them when I take a wrong turn on the Information Superhighway, as Al Gore liked to call it. I can say for sure that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan meets that description, just as I can say for sure the media spin that he is “right wing” is ridiculous. If he’s so far right, why have so many members of the Congressional Black Caucus, including the only-recently resigned co-chair of the Democratic National Committee, met with him, posed with him, and generally given him legitimacy? Barack Obama posed with him too, though that photo was stored in the media memory hole until he was safely elected President.
Oh, I get it: only conservatives spread hate, ergo Farrakhan must be a right winger. I suspect that the real reason Farrakhan was on the initial list of banned users was so Facebook could claim, when challenged, that it wasn’t just banning advocates for the far right.
Progressives and their allies need to get their stories straight.
Let me get back to the first sentence: for a major source of communication in our society to permanently censor anyone based purely on the ideas and opinions they advocate is unethical, and is a serious threat to freedom of expression in the United States. Continue reading