Saturday, December 8, 2012

Let's talk about Facebook censorship.

Yesterday a friend and I were censored by the fine folks at Facebook.

Several weeks ago, I was involved in an online debate with local Tea Party Congressman and Onion enthusiast, Rep. Dr. John Fleming (R-LA).  The conversation began on our local newspaper website, and was connected to Facebook via the online sign-in mechanism.

Rep. Dr. John Fleming (R-LA)
After a prolonged and heated conversation with Rep. Fleming, we constituents came to the painful realization that Rep. Fleming was (1) blatantly bullying us in a public forum, (2) refusing to answer basic public policy questions, and (3) resorting to canned Tea Party talking points when responding to our sincere concerns.

Yesterday, several weeks after the online conversation ended, Facebook informed me that: 

"We removed content you posted.  We removed the following content you posted or were the admin of because it violates Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities:  'Fleming is no servant leader. He should read Robert Greenleaf and get a clue.'"

After analyzing this incident, I have come to the following conclusions: 

1.  Facebook is not a democracy.

2.  Facebook is a privately-owned corporation with its own set of ethics and standards.

3.  Freedom of speech laws apply to us as individual citizens (allegedly).  However, as contract-signing users of a privately-owned product, we are obligated to abide by the owner's rules & regulations. 

4.  Tea Party Republicans, including Rep. John Fleming, have not disappeared - they've just become more subversive and pissed off since the Presidential election.

5.  A narcissistic, ineffective Tea Party Congressman unable to converse intelligently with his own constituents re: public policy in an open forum is VERY likely to stoop to dictating his paranoid demands to the corporation that hosts that forum, rather than educating himself and thoughtfully considering the demands of the voters.

6.  If that corporation is spineless - and we all know it is - then said corporation will likely bend to his will to avoid losing profits gained thru tax loopholes, political favors, and potential government-imposed sanctions or shut-down.

7.  Syria. Egypt.  Other governments have forcefully shut down public access to the internet in order to control the people & suppress their voices.  Do we really believe that extremist Tea Party politicians here in the U.S. wouldn't LOVE to keep intelligent folks from sharing intelligent ideas via the internet?  Censorship is how they begin that process.

8.  Facebook refuses to delete anti-Muslim hate speech on Tea Party-related pages.  I reported several online statements made by members of the Red River Tea Party and the "We The People - Shreveport" Facebook page; however, Facebook replied that these venomous remarks "didn't meet their standards" for removal.  Any reasonable person could see that the remarks are without doubt hate speech, but that doesn't matter to Facebook admins.  But my mention of servant leadership, Robert Greenleaf and Fleming in the same sentence DOES merit censorship based on Facebook's unpublished rules.

8.  I don't have to volunteer to be oppressed.  It's my decision whether to keep subscribing to a privately-owned service that will arbitrarily censor me.  Now, I have to make a decision based on what I know. 

We all have to make a decision.

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