Picked a link somewhat at random to read more about it.
Facebook censored an ACLU post about censorship. https://www.aclu.org/blog/naked-statue-reveals-one-thing-facebook-censorship-needs-better-appeals-process
Yes, it is narrowly true that a post about censorship was censored, but that’s because it had a picture of boobs, not because of the message.
Verdict: Misleading and disingenuous.
It’s controversial art, it’s not a picture of boobs. Half of world’s museums should be empty by these standards.
Is it unreasonable to have different standards for different spaces?
No. But anything acceptable in a public park (e.g., statues of nude ancient greek guys or bronze boobs) should be acceptable on a public website.
And if it were the government imposing this rule on all websites accessible by the public, I’d agree. But for the purposes of who decides what’s appropriate content, Facebook is functioning as a private website.
Like if I run a coffe shop, that’s a “public space” in the sense that people can come and gather and discuss. If I want to decorate the space with naked mannequins, that’s cool too. But if I hold an open mike night, I can still kick people off the stage if I don’t like them.
With great power should come some responsibility, whether the entity is defined as a government or not. So if you own all coffee shops in town, you shouldn’t be allowed to ban a person from all of them without due process. Yes, the law says otherwise, but ideally you shouldn’t be.
Yes, no, maybe?
Let’s say I happen to own all the coffee shops and ban slant rhymes because ugh. Even so, edgy poets can still recite in other places. Or even open coffee shops that allow slant rhymes. If those other shops are under attended, that’s not necessarily because I’m doing anything wrong. Maybe the public doesn’t like slant rhymes either and prefers to attend readings they know will be slant free. Requiring that I permit slant rhymes is contrary to both my wishes as the proprietor and the majority of my customers.
Well, coffee shops are not the best analogy here, so I can’t really argue that you have to carry darjeeling if all you want to sell is assam, and poets can go to bars instead anyway. (EDIT: there’s also a fine difference between “no reading slam poetry into the mic” and “no slam poets allowed inside”, which is what I meant by “banning a person”.) But if you’re the only cell phone provider in the area, saying “you can’t recite modern poetry on the phone, and if you disagree, open your own cell phone company” would not be OK. Likewise, if Google and Facebook have been so successful in inserting themselves into the majority of human communication, they should, ideally, bear some responsibility before these humans.
Sure, the line between the two is quite blurry, but life is full of blurry lines.
Indeed. I think incomplete analogies at least help us refine the question. For instance, Facebook is banning pictures of breast feeding, not women who breast feed. That’s a distinction often lost, but resurfaces when we discuss whether it’s poets or poetry being banned by the coffee shop.
Here’s a story illustrating a somewhat better analogy.
The Sony Center in Berlin is a privately owned group of buildings with a common roof and no entry barriers, looking like this from the inside. Some time ago a private event involving politicians was held in one of the restaurants there, and a small group of people (8 or so) decided to protest against it and notified the police about it. When they opened their banners, the restaurant owner called a security guard, who told the protesters that it’s a private place and therefore he has the right to tell them to leave. The police, however, told everyone involved that the right to political speech trumps ownership rights, and assisted the protesters in finding a space where they could stand without obstructing the flow of people while still being visible to anyone entring the restaurant.
It seems to me that Facebook is more like a privately owned public space where anyone can open their coffee shop, hold their private events or just come wave some banners.
But Facebook does have barriers - kids under 13 can’t open a coffee shop or wave a banner. Neither someone who doesn’t have an email address, or won’t share it. Same for their real name, though that one is harder to verify. And certain classes of criminals - including registered sex offenders - are turned away at the door as well.
And if we decide not to get our membership, we are free to peek through the windows, no more.
But Facebook does have barriers - kids under 13 can’t open a coffee shop or wave a banner.
Kids under 18 (or whatever) can’t open a coffee shop in a real-life mall either. They can’t enter a dance club or a bar, but these are still considered semi-public spaces. And they can always get a free e-mail address and lie about their age. Though I partly agree with you: the analogy is not perfect.
But that’s akin to saying, “if you decide not to get a cell phone…”.
Owning a cell phone has not exposed me to nearly as much unpleasantness as having a Facebook account did, when I had one. Even if I accepted that all of the ways Facebook excludes people are just, it’s still unreasonable to suggest everyone who isn’t in one of those categories is only punishing themselves by not participating.
Sure, they’re not the same, and it’s possible to survive without either. I, for one, don’t use Google Search or Maps. But so many people use these services that it’s not unreasonable, in my opinion, to classify them as… “Infrastructure”? “Semi-essential”? I don’t know what the proper term would be, but hopefully you see what I’m trying to say.
EDIT: “Monopoly”, maybe?
I get what you’re trying to say, yeah. I prefer to model it as: Any large online social venue has a responsibility to have sensible practices about content. I don’t think the “everyone has to use it” status is really where I’d draw the dividing line, and I’m not sure whether size is the criterion I’d use at all. How diverse the audience is, maybe?
There are many fuzzy dividing lines here. A site like LinkedIn, but specific to embedded programmers in Belgium, would be smaller and less diverse but more essential than a site like Facebook with a highly diverse population, but with only 0.1% of world population. Hard to say.
Agreed, it’s complicated. :)
Yes. I think the rules are (or should be) somewhat different when the government or politicians are using private spaces. If you hold a government event, you have to accept the public. The government can’t use private spaces as a shield to circumvent other rules. But that has little bearing on private citizens using private spaces.
Somewhat relevant story: http://blog.ericgoldman.org/archives/2016/06/county-attorneys-deletion-of-constituents-facebook-comment-may-violate-first-amendment.htm
If you hold a government event, you have to accept the public.
It was a private event, like negotiations or something, not one the public should be invited to. The protest, however, was political speech, but it occurred in the privately-owned space outside the restaurant, not in the venue itself.
It’s an interesting story you link to, thanks.
I’d never argue that Facebook doesn’t have a right to operate in the exclusionary way they do. I’d have to argue that Lobste.rs is wrong to be exclusionary, as well. :)
But I do wish that Facebook users were more aware of the exclusion and its effects.
When 50% of programmers get accounts on lobste.rs, I’ll start demanding accountability from @jcs :)
Incomplete analogies are essentially sophism though, great educational tool but not useful when used in public discussions.
I think I disagree about it being not useful.
As I said, it’s indeed useful for educational reasons and rhetoric, just not right to use it to prove a hypothesis in a public discourse, because it leads to logic fallacies.
Right, I see what you mean now.
What about the other links? They’re all like that?
I don’t know. That was the only link I checked. I don’t really care about their real name policy, and I already know about it, so I skipped over them. Censorship sounded interesting, so I followed that link.
What I mean by “random” is that I didn’t exhaustively follow every link to find a single flaw. I picked one link that sounded interesting, then checked it out.
I think you’re being uncharitable. They’re just links, not journalistic headlines and the links are meant to be followed, not taken at face value. Is seems like Stallman decided to relate the irony of the situation in the link name because it’s amusing; I don’t see that as disingenuous. After all linked blog post does share some unsettling info about censorship on facebook, and is still a good link to have on a that page.
All true. In my case, I don’t have the time or interest to actually follow and read every link. I rely on the text summary on this page to tell me what’s happening. Hopefully accurately.
Perhaps you should email Stallman and tell him you were nearly mislead by this? He may change it.
The sentiment in this thread clearly indicates I’m in the minority. Most people like the page just the way it is.
Email him anyway. He’ll probably do something about it. He wants his message to reach as many people as possible.
If it were anyone else but Richard Stallman, the appearance of that website would not look favourably on its credibility. All it would need is a little bit of CSS work, and it could look decently professional.
Now beyond that, a lot of the content is basically an aggregation of sources that is probably a good one stop shop for those that want to find evidence of less than kosher things they do.
Neither of those things diminishes the immorality of Facebook’s practices.
It’s actually decent CSS, with media queries for small resolutions and everything. Just very minimalist.