Monday, July 1, 2013

Flagging Facebook for Flirting with Political Fascism

Fox News Radio's Todd Starnes has never been a neutral voice regarding contentious current events issues. But an innocuous social media status update has caused a maelstrom which should prompt the media to examine how they conduct themselves.

In response to the rash of reactionary nanny state rulings, Starnes posted a pointed Facebook update on his Fan Page:

I'm about as politically incorrect as you can get.  I'm wearing an NRA ball cap, eating a Chick-fil-A sandwich, reading a Paula Deen cookbook and sipping a 20-ounce sweet tea while sitting in my Cracker Barrel rocking chair with the Gather Vocal Band singing 'Jesus Saves' on the stereo and Gideon's Bible in my pocket.  Yes sir, I'm politically incorrect and happy as a June bug.
This satirically status update managed to get the Todd Starnes Fanpage briefly suspended.

Facebook has a community standards criteria which outlines ten types of prohibited posts, which include: violence and threats; self-harm; bullying and harassment; hate speech; graphic content; nudity and pornography; identity and privacy; intellectual property; phishing and spam; and security.  Starnes reached out to Facebook to determine which standard he was alleged to have violated, which  the social media site never clarified.  So Starnes will wonder whether it was the NRA, Jesus or the plump juicy chicken breast from Chick-fil-A which made Starnes Facebook persona non grata.

After Starnes fans vociferously protested, Facebook reinstated Starnes Fan page and included this explanation: 

As our team processes hundreds of thousands of reports each week, we occasionally make a mistake.  In this case, we mistakenly removed content from the Todd Starnes Page, and worked to rectify the mistake as soon as we were notified.

This explanation seems to pass the buck to low level staffers.  Perhaps they got pointers from the Cincinnati IRS office.

Other conservatives have been chary about sharing on Facebook as they have experienced incidents of being blocked for conservative content.   Marc Zuckerberg has a private company which there is no inherent right to use.  However, if users are bound to Terms of Service, it is incumbent that the social media company follows its own rules.  Facebook was forthright in claiming that Starnes post was blocked due to that post and being a violation of the Community Standard.  If that is the case, it should clarify what shibboleth was violated.  Moreover, if Facebook wants to censor posts for political content which does not violate the aforementioned Community Standards, then it ought to change its TOS and apply the rules even handedly.

The Todd Starnes anti-PC posting is a prominent case of when the regime's  will is exercised through corporate and non-governmental entities to control the public opinion. One thinks of Jonah Goldberg's book Liberal Fascism (2008).  This incident underlines the liberal lie about supporting free speech and the best reaction to speech one disagrees with is more free speech.

h/t: Hot Air

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