I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Facebook restricts access to its holocaust-denial sites

Wikipedia describes Facebook as --

. . a free-access social networking website that is operated and privately owned by Facebook, Inc.. Users can join networks organized by city, workplace, school, and region to connect and interact with other people. People can also add friends and send them messages, and update their personal profiles to notify friends about themselves.

Bradley Smith wrote on his "One Person with Proof" blog,

Technically Incorrect has posted an interesting article on censorship instigated by Dallas Cowboys owner Mark Cuban's brother and attorney for his companies, Brian. Brian has written to Facebook demanding to know why the social-networking site allows Holocaust denial groups. His opinion is that this is not a First Amendment issue.

"The belief that the First Amendment protects speech in the private social media arena or at your place of employment is a common misconception," he says.

Wrong. TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers, for example, are usually privately owned, yet the courts have ruled that they are subject or potentially subject to 1st Amendment freedom-of-speech requirements.
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Although Holocaust denial is not illegal in the US, it is a crime in Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Israel, Slovakia, and Switzerland.

To Cuban, any Holocaust denial group is clearly committing an illegal act in those countries. He has therefore written to Facebook asking the company why it permits the five Holocaust denial groups he has found on the site.

It is not Facebook's job to enforce foreign censorship laws. Facebook's first obligation is to the US Constitution. Our courts have been severely criticized for merely mentioning foreign laws and court opinions, let alone applying them.

A Facebook spokesman said that Facebook is not planning to remove the holocaust-denial sites -- at least not yet [link]--

. . .we are sensitive to groups that threaten violence towards people and these groups are taken down. We also remove groups that express hatred towards individuals and groups that are sponsored by recognized terrorist organizations. We do not, however, take down groups that speak out against countries, political entities, or ideas.

However, he said that Facebook is using IP addresses to block access from countries where holocaust-denial is illegal [link]--

When dealing with user generated content on global websites, there are occasions where content that is illegal in one country, is not (or may even be protected) in another. For example, homosexual content is illegal in some countries, but that does not mean it should be removed from Facebook. Most companies approach this issue by preventing certain content from being shown to users in the countries where it is illegal and that is our approach as well. We have recently begun to block content by IP in countries where that content is illegal, including Nazi-related and holocaust denial content in certain European countries. The groups in question have been blocked in the appropriate countries.

As I said, Facebook's obligation is to follow the US Constitution and US laws, not foreign censorship laws. And I am really surprised that anyone in the US would dare restrict access to homosexual sites.

Also, using IP addresses to block Internet communications is illegal or frowned upon in Europe. A news article said,

(AP) IP addresses, string of numbers that identify computers on the Internet, should generally be regarded as personal information, the head of the European Union's group of data privacy regulators said Monday.

Germany's data protection commissioner, Peter Scharr, leads the EU group preparing a report on how well the privacy policies of Internet search engines operated by Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., Microsoft Corp. and others comply with EU privacy law.

Here are some excerpts from Directive 95/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 24 October 1995:

Article 1

Object of the Directive

1. In accordance with this Directive, Member States shall protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, and in particular their right to privacy with respect to the processing of personal data . . . .
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Article 2

Definitions

For the purposes of this Directive:

(a) 'personal data' shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('data subject'); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identification number or to one or more factors specific to his physical, physiological, mental, economic, cultural or social identity . . . . .(emphasis added)

Article 6

1. Member States shall provide that personal data must be:

- - - - - - - - -

(e) kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the data were collected or for which they are further processed . . . . .

Article 7

Member States shall provide that personal data may be processed only if:

(a) the data subject has unambiguously given his consent; or

(b) processing is necessary for the performance of a contract to which the data subject is party or in order to take steps at the request of the data subject prior to entering into a contract; or

(c) processing is necessary for compliance with a legal obligation to which the controller is subject; or

(d) processing is necessary in order to protect the vital interests of the data subject; or

(e) processing is necessary for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller or in a third party to whom the data are disclosed; or

(f) processing is necessary for the purposes of the legitimate interests pursued by the controller or by the third party or parties to whom the data are disclosed, except where such interests are overridden by the interests for fundamental rights and freedoms of the data subject which require protection under Article 1 (1).

As for Articles 7(c) and 7(e) above, "compliance with a legal obligation" and "performance of a task carried out in the public interest," Facebook has an obligation to follow the US Constitution and has no obligation to follow foreign censorship laws.

Some of this blog's articles about misuse of IP addresses to block Internet communications are here, here, here, here, and here.

If Facebook's restriction of access to a Facebook site shows disapproval, then what does unrestricted access to a Facebook site show? Approval? Does Facebook want to imply that it approves of every Facebook site that has unrestricted access? Why can't Facebook just post a disclaimer saying that Facebook does not endorse or approve any Facebook site?

Facebook is so big that they think they can get away with almost anything. However, like Wikipedia, Facebook is going to find out that, as the saying goes, "the bigger they are, the harder they fall."
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5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Wrong. TV stations, radio stations, and newspapers, for example, are usually privately owned, yet the courts have ruled that they are subject or potentially subject to 1st Amendment freedom-of-speech requirements. <

As for TV and radio stations, while the station may be privately owned, the airways, which are limited, are not.

While you can drive your own car recklessly and at any speed on your own property, your freedom to do so on public roads is limited.

The case of newspapers is different. Can you cite places where freedom of speech was denied newspapers?

Monday, May 11, 2009 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

>>>>>> As for TV and radio stations, while the station may be privately owned, the airways, which are limited, are not. <<<<<<

That's a distinction without a difference. The TV and radio stations are worthless without the broadcasting frequencies that they use. Those broadcasting frequencies might as well be considered to be private after the government assigns them to the different stations.

>>>>> While you can drive your own car recklessly and at any speed on your own property, your freedom to do so on public roads is limited. <<<<<<

Bad analogy. The broadcasting frequencies are like private roads that only the TV and radio station owners can drive on.

>>>>>> The case of newspapers is different. Can you cite places where freedom of speech was denied newspapers? <<<<<<

I am not talking about newspapers being denied freedom of speech (or the press) -- I am talking about newspapers denying freedom of speech to others.

Miami Herald Publishing Co. v. Tornillo was a lawsuit that challenged a Florida "right of reply" statute that granted a political candidate a right to equal space to answer criticism and attacks on his record by a newspaper. In other words, the statute held that those criticisms and attacks in a newspaper created a special freedom-of-speech right to equal space to respond in that newspaper. By a vote of 8-1, the Florida Supreme Court upheld the statute as constitutional (that decision was later overruled by the US Supreme Court). More details about this case are here (Item #8).

By the way, this case -- where the US Supreme Court by a vote of 9-0 overruled an 8-1 decision of the Florida Supreme Court -- is a good illustration of why Judge "Jackass" Jones' statement that the work of judges is "workmanlike" -- a statement that implies that different judges would always reach the same decision on a particular case -- is a load of living crap. It is Judge "Jackass" Jones who needs a "civics lesson."

People have this crazy idea that "private property" is sacrosanct and that they can do anything they want with private property. For example, the government can pass zoning or environmental regulations that severely restrict the use of private land and in many cases the government has provided no or inadequate compensation for the property owners' losses that are caused by those regulations.

Monday, May 11, 2009 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> Those broadcasting frequencies might as well be considered to be private after the government assigns them to the different stations. <

Not at all. The stations do not own them at any time and can be limited by the government, even arbitrarily.

> I am talking about newspapers denying freedom of speech to others. <

Newspapers are unable to deny freedom of speech. Any one is free to print whatever they want. They are not free to force a privately owned company to post their words.

> Jones' statement that the work of judges is "workmanlike" -- a statement that implies that different judges would always reach the same decision on a particular case -- is a load of living crap. <

Yes. The claim that saying that the work of judges is workmanlike implies that different judges would alway reach the same decision on a particular case -- is a load of living crap.

Monday, May 11, 2009 6:51:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Anonymous barfed,
>>>>> > Those broadcasting frequencies might as well be considered to be private after the government assigns them to the different stations. <

Not at all. The stations do not own them at any time and can be limited by the government, even arbitrarily. <<<<<<

" . .. can be limited by the government, even arbitrarily"? How do you know that, bozo? The stations might have contracts or leases for use of the broadcasting frequencies -- it certainly stands to reason that the stations would want to protect their investments by preventing the government from arbitrarily taking away the broadcasting frequencies. Anyway, what is your point? What are you trying to prove? What bearing does this have on the issue of whether or not the government has the right to control freedom of speech in the private media?

>>>>>> Newspapers are unable to deny freedom of speech. Any one is free to print whatever they want. They are not free to force a privately owned company to post their words. <<<<<<

Bozo, don't you read my answers to your comments? I gave the example of Miami Herald v. Tornillo, where the Florida Supreme Court upheld a statute that forced newspapers to print replies to attacks on political candidates. That decision was overturned by the US Supreme Court, but the US Supreme Court never said that there are no circumstances where newspapers could be required to print certain things.

>>>>>> The claim that saying that the work of judges is workmanlike implies that different judges would alway reach the same decision on a particular case -- is a load of living crap. <<<<<<<

You are so dumbshit stupid that you need to be euthanized to protect yourself and others from the consequences of your own stupidity. It is obvious that Judge Jones says that judges' work is "workmanlike" because he is trying to defend his Dover decision by giving people the false impression that any other judge would have reached the exact same decision.

Anon, your first comment was OK and I answered it politely, but you are really starting to piss me off now.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger badfish303 said...

Regardless, facebook's actions, however wrong holocaust denial is, are not motivated by morality but only by profit. Their capitalist agenda uses the guise of morality and public outrage as an excuse for a completely economically strategic move.

I agree that holocaust denial is wrong, and that people have the freedom of speech everywhere, but lying about reasons for an action using the guise of something as controversial and morally wrong as the holocaust is the same, morally wrong.

Read my blog for more information
freespace7.blogspot.com

Tuesday, May 12, 2009 11:52:00 PM  

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