Facebook completely disables holocaust-denial sites
Facebook has confirmed my earlier suspicion that it has disabled two of the five Holocaust denial groups whose presence has caused much controversy over the past week, following attorney Brian Cuban's consistent pressure for the groups' removal.
Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt said in an e-mail to Technically Incorrect: "Two of the groups have been disabled, but the other three remain."
He continued: "We are monitoring these groups and if the discussion among members degrades to the point of promoting hate or violence, despite whatever disclaimer the group description provides, we will take them down. This has happened in the past, especially when controversial groups are publicized."
This is the beginning of the end for Facebook. Facebook executives are fascist sleazebags who should be put on trial for high treason for siding with the enemies of the US Constitution.
Lots of controversial subjects provide opportunities for hate speech -- why single out holocaust denial? Controlling all the hate speech on Facebook sites would be an impossible task. And all this talk about hate speech on holocaust-denial sites is just guilt-by-association.
My own view is that a "systematic" Jewish holocaust was impossible because the Nazis had no objective and reliable ways of identifying Jews and non-Jews. What is hateful about that statement?
The censorship of the holocaust-denial sites has been improperly compared to Facebook's censorship of breastfeeding sites that contain pictures of breastfeeding women. The censorship standard for the breastfeeding sites -- the "redeeming social value" standard for pornography -- is different. Anyway, anything goes in pornography on the Internet, except kiddie porn using live kids as subjects -- for example, one of my favorite websites has dozens of pictures of girls using strap-on dildos to sodomize guys. So there is no point in trying to restrict pornography on the Internet, either.
I wonder -- how many people are going to spend the time to set up and contribute to a Facebook site on a controversial subject if there is a real risk that Facebook will arbitrarily delete the site in the future? What is to prevent an opponent of holocaust-denial sites from planting real hate-speech on them (e.g., "kill all the Jews") for the purpose of provoking Facebook to get rid of them? Also, the standard for judging the gravity of an incitement to violence should depend on the situation -- there is one helluva difference between (1) posting an Internet statement that incites to violence and (2) inciting a mob to violence. And the sole purpose for charging that all holocaust denial is anti-Semitic is to try to shut down debate.
Here are some legal issues --
The federal statute 47 USC §230, "Protection for private blocking and screening of offensive material," is here. 47 USC §230 (c)(1) protects Facebook from liability for anything posted in Facebook sites by outside parties --
(c) Protection for “Good Samaritan” blocking and screening of offensive material(1) Treatment of publisher or speaker
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.
Facebook is here the "provider . . .of an interactive computer service," and an owner and the contributors of a Facebook site constitute "another information content provider."
A Facebook competitor could attract business away from Facebook by making a credible promise of "NO CENSORSHIP."
Unfortunately, the following provision, 47 USC §230 (c) (2)(A), appears to give Facebook's act of censorship some protection --
(2) Civil liability
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—(A) any action voluntarily taken in good faith to restrict access to or availability of material that the provider or user considers to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected;
A lot depends on how the term "good faith" is interpreted.
Also, 47 USC §230 (c)(2)(B) provides,
No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be held liable on account of—(A) - - - - -
(B) any action taken to enable or make available to information content providers or others the technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1)
Using IP addresses as the "technical means to restrict access to material described in paragraph (1)" -- which Facebook is doing here [link] -- is illegal or frowned upon in Europe and California. [link] [link]
Wikipedia, the big online user-edited encyclopedia, has also been practicing arbitrary censorship, and this censorship has fueled attempts to create or promote alternatives to Wikipedia [link]. However, though Wickedpedia's reputation has been greatly damaged by charges of censorship and students are often prohibited from citing Wikipedia as a reference, these alternative encyclopedias have not been very successful in unseating Wickedpedia, largely because Wickedpedia's great size -- with millions of articles and many contributors -- has given it a big advantage because it is an encyclopedia. However, great size is no big advantage for Facebook -- much smaller competitors can offer everything that Facebook offers plus a no-censorship pledge (except for kiddie porn using live young kids as subjects) that is given extra credibility by 47 USC §230 (c)(1), which says, "No provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider."
I wonder if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- the holocaust-denying Iranian president -- has a holocaust-denial Facebook site. LOL
This Facebook censorship really hits home because this blog could be shut down on the grounds that it contains holocaust revisionism (as well as Darwin-to-Hitler stuff). Facebook must be stopped.
Boycott Facebook. The freedom of expression you save may be your own.