Facebook Comments Aren’t Free Speech: Mark Zuckerberg’s 2019 “Free Expression” Speech Is Misleading

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Facebook Comments Aren’t Free Speech: Mark Zuckerberg’s 2019 “Free Expression” Speech Is Misleading

There is a debate around social media, and a insistence by some, that Facebook comments are free speech. Since online comments are on platforms owned by someone else, that owner can elect to disallow certain types of speech like hate speech. That power, alone, relegates such comments to the non-free space, if you will.

Thus, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s October 19, 2019 speech called “Mark Zuckerberg Stands for Voice and Free Expression” is misleading, to say the least. He said:

“Since then, I’ve focused on building services to do two things: give people voice, and bring people together. These two simple ideas — voice and inclusion — go hand in hand. We’ve seen this throughout history, even if it doesn’t feel that way today. More people being able to share their perspectives has always been necessary to build a more inclusive society. And our mutual commitment to each other — that we hold each others’ right to express our views and be heard above our own desire to always get the outcomes we want — is how we make progress together.
But this view is increasingly being challenged. Some people believe giving more people a voice is driving division rather than bringing us together. More people across the spectrum believe that achieving the political outcomes they think matter is more important than every person having a voice. I think that’s dangerous. Today I want to talk about why, and some important choices we face around free expression.”

But even with his words, Facebook has a track record of taking down comments because its system, or someone, misunderstood them to be harmful in some way. And Twitter is a far greater censor of what are called “tweets”. In my personal case, Jack Dorsey and his staff, for reasons still not truly explained, suspended my Zennie62 account, supposedly for having multiple accounts. But Twitter itself encourages one to have multiple accounts and has pages on how to set them up!

But the real reason not revealed to me seems to be related to my vlog about Ivanka Trump’s visit to CES 2020 under the cloud of war with Iran made by her father, President Trump. Now, I had nothing against her being at CES 2020, and even went to the event. She did a fantastic job. My only concern was one of safety – Twitter support’s actions seemed timed after that, even though no detailed reason was given; what was presented was made up.

I had asked for a Twitter verified account long ago – never got one. It comes with algorithmic advantages such that I was determined to build a workaround, and did. I submit that Twitter should not be trying to silence a harmless idea – which is all that was. It looks like Twitter has engaged in an effort to silence many black voices – and on Black History Month.

Moreover, Twitter also supports automated tweets – so the platform has rules that are selectively applied. Moreover, it’s gone back to the racist practice of having only African Americans who are in rap, sports, or politics, as suggested accounts to follow – something it stopped doing in 2012, after significant criticism by bloggers, like myself.

The simple rule is this: if you want your own free speech, you have to make your own platform. You can’t count on someone else to represent the World the way you want online. I have hundreds of self-made platforms, and for the simple reason based on something the late Oakland Post Publisher Tom Berkeley told me: “Young man,” he said to me in 1996 when I went to visit him at the request of Elihu Harris, my boss who was the Mayor of Oakland, then, “the reason I have this law library and printing press is because the war of the future will be the war over information. Make sure you control it.”

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