After banning Alex Jones, Paul Joseph Watson, Milo Yiannopoulos and others from Facebook and Instagram today, the big tech platform explained to Big League Politics that any user who posts Infowars videos or content without condemning it may also be subject to a ban.
Big League Politics contacted Facebook in an attempt to gain clarification after two different media outlets published conflicting reports about the future of Infowars’ content on the big tech platform. The Verge reported that users could continue to post content and commentary complimentary toward Infowars, while The Atlantic reported that any users posting Infowars content would see it removed and possibly face a ban.
In an attempt to clarify its stance, Facebook told Big League Politics that the platform will let users make posts complimentary about Infowars or reflecting them in a positive nature, but will not allow users to post links to Infowars videos, unless they are doing so to condemn the content.
This would seem to mean that simply linking to the Infowars website is now prohibited, as virtually every article includes videos featuring Jones, and a live stream or replay of the most recent episode of “The Alex Jones Show” is featured on the sidebar of the Infowars website.
In a statement from Facebook Policy Communications Manager Sarah Pollack, she told Big League Politics that today’s decision was made after an extensive period of examining whether the platform considers Jones to “promote or engage in violence and hate,” and told Big League Politics that its “process for evaluating potential violators is extensive” and it culminated in the actions taken today.
The decision was made, in part, because Jones interviewed writer and media personality Gavin McInnes, who founded the Proud Boys and co-founded VICE News, on his platform twice after Facebook designated McInnes a hate figure.
While Facebook says it does not use the Southern Poverty Law Center to determine who is a “hate figure,” it is worth mentioning that McInnes is currently suing the SPLC for its decision to name him as a “hate figure” on its website. Several prominent persons in the SPLC have resigned from their positions as the lawsuit unfolds.
Facebook Will Create “Oversight Board” For Users to Appeal Censorship Decisions
A smidgen of accountability.
Facebook is planning on rolling out an “oversight board” to which users of the platform can appeal the censorship of content.
“Over the next few weeks, our nearly 3 billion users will have access to an independent review of difficult content decisions,” announced the company in a Thursday blog post.
Oversight Board to Start Hearing Cases https://t.co/AAaa2nPmsF
— Facebook Newsroom (@fbnewsroom) October 22, 2020
Facebook is describing the oversight board as a “global body of experts separate from Facebook that will make independent and binding decisions on the cases they choose to hear.” Facebook users will presumably have the option to appeal incidences of censorship to Facebook’s oversight board when they have exhausted use of Facebook’s existing censorship appeal process. However, the existing process is only available on a seemingly arbitrary basis, and it’s probably not unlikely that those who already aren’t in Facebook’s good graces won’t be allowed the opportunity to appeal to the oversight board.
The overseers are employed and selected by Facebook itself, casting serious doubt as to whether they’re genuinely impartial arbiters of social media censorship.
It’s hard to tell if this is a step in the right direction or merely a ruse for the monopoly to counter accusations that its arbitrary censorship process is undemocratic and authoritarian. In predictable fashion, the powerful Oversight Board is staffed almost exclusively with Soros-linked neoliberal progressives, some of whom have already advocated for a European understanding of “free speech” as opposed to an American one.
With great power comes great responsibility, and Facebook seems content to accept the former without the latter. It simply isn’t their place to declare what is permissible political speech.
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