FB (not spelling out the name to fool their algorithms) recently announced a new policy where they will disable "certain" posts regarding anti-shutdown protests. This will include Events using FB's tool.
What is disturbing about this is that FB has been in contact with state governors' offices regarding the issue, though everyone is denying that there was any actual take down request or order.
This is what they said the communication was about: "Facebook reached out last week to learn more about Nebraska's social distancing restrictions, and the governor's staff provided already publicly available information about Nebraska's 10-person limit and directed health measures." (CNN)
I'd like a transcript or recording of that call to see what really happened. I wouldn't be surprised if FB came up with the idea and it was enthusiastically supported by government.
A FB spokeshole told CNN: "Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government's guidance on social distancing aren't allowed on Facebook."
So basically, the tech giant is saying "we're banning the posts because it's promoting an illegal activity," but it's okay where it isn't illegal. Zuckerberg's troll is ignoring the whole unconstitutional angle of banning peaceable assemblies and redress of grievances. Also, if they have now drawn a nexus to the state where they could be argued in court as agents of the state. A savvy lawyer would and put FB on the hook for civil rights violations.
What is frightening about this is that social media and big tech could target all sorts of protests. Imagine if they feel they want to take down a pro-gun protest? Right to life? Religious freedom? All some liberal governor has to do is make an off-the-books phone call to FB and ask them to come up with some policy to squash it.
Big tech needs to be held out to the public square standard. FB has made itself so ubiquitous that it has become essentially a private utility. And if you argue "it's their website, they can do what they want," then any private person or business should have every right to discriminate against anyone for any reason.
So develop those other channels of communications. Visit this blog by subscribing to the RSS feed (if that's your thing) or book mark this. At least submit to the newsletter so I can put out information to you if Facebook takes us down.
Clayton E. Cramer
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