Lawyer: censorship by Facebook is 'dangerous '

  • (3 May 2019) Facebook censoring hate speech and bigotry is a "dangerous proposition" says a First Amendment lawyer, because the social media giant with more than 2 billion users is exercising its power to decide who gets to speak and who doesn't get to speak.
    Alex Abdo of the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University says perhaps the more significant issue is the Facebook logarithm that, for business reasons,  pushes shocking or offensive content onto people's news feed because they are more likely to engage with it.  
    Earlier this week, after years of pressure to crack down on hate and bigotry, Facebook banned Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and other extremists, saying they violated its ban on "dangerous individuals."
    The company also removed right-wing personalities Paul Nehlen, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, along with Jones' site, Infowars, which often posts conspiracy theories.
    The latest bans apply to both Facebook's main service and to Instagram and extend to fan pages and other related accounts.
    Decried as censorship by several of those who got the ax, the move signals a renewed effort by the social media giant to remove people and groups promoting objectionable material such as hate, racism and anti-Semitism.
    Facebook has previously suspended Jones from its flagship service temporarily; this suspension is permanent and includes Instagram.
    Twitter has also banned Loomer, Jones and Yiannopoulos, though Farrakhan, the leader of the Nation of Islam long known for provocative comments widely considered anti-Semitic, still had an account Thursday. So did Watson, who rose to popularity as editor-at-large at Infowars and has nearly a million followers on the site.
    Facebook said the newly banned accounts violated its policy against dangerous individuals and organizations.
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