LifeSiteNews removed from Facebook for violating COVID-19 misinformation policies

"The announcement quoted LifeSiteNews marketing director Rebekah Roberts, who framed Facebook’s decision as 'another case of Big Tech silencing free speech on their platform.'" - RNS

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Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quick visit to their website... lots of prolife content but also a sprinkling of anti-vax stuff, and election conspiracy pieces. Makes pro-life look bad.

I don't know what the social media giants are supposed to do about the dilemma of misinformation, but it's hard to feel much sympathy for groups like LifeSiteNews.

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

dgszweda's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

I don't know what the social media giants are supposed to do about the dilemma of misinformation, but it's hard to feel much sympathy for groups like LifeSiteNews.

I think Big Tech is taking the right approach.  They are not targeting free speech or differing views.  They are targeting sites that violate their rules about spreading outright falsehoods.  I have yet to see a ban that takes place that is related to a differing view that has credible evidence towards it.  They are just flat out spreading lies and disinformation.  Maybe this will change down the road, but I for one, welcome these types of bans.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

If the social media giants could be trusted to stick to basic standards and only oust, for example, US Presidents who try to use the social media platform as part of a propaganda campaign to steal an election they lost, we'd be fine.

But that's a lot of trust... in organizations that have little market competition to hold them accountable when they overstep on their censorship efforts.

And both FB and Twitter have overstepped at times.

So far, there's been some outcry in clear cases, and usually some backtracking--an effort to be responsive.

I'm starting to wonder, though, if some of the antitrust efforts might have some merit (much as it pains me to agree with Josh Hawley about anything!).

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

The problem with saying "basic standards" are OK for limiting free speech depends very much on the definition of those standards.  Everyone has his own idea what would be OK to censor or not, whether it be a president complaining about elections, or someone disagreeing with vaccines, or religion, or whatever, just as dgszweda made clear above.  None of us ever worries too much about censorship as long as it's someone else's ox being gored, even though if we thought about it long enough, we probably should.

The way I see it, as soon as you let the camel's nose in the tent, you've lost.  I'd go a little further than Aaron to say that some sort of antitrust effort will eventually be necessary, even if it's just modification of section 230 to state clearly that any private "content modification," especially according to standards that are not 100% transparent and available to the public, changes the status of the company from platform to publisher, subjecting it to liability for decisions it makes about which content to publish.

Dave Barnhart

Larry's picture

Moderator

Here's the irony to me: The left is adamant that private companies should be able to censor what gets said on their product. And at the same time the left is adamant that private companies should not be able to censor what gets said on their product.

Riddle me this: What's the difference between a baker and Facebook (aside from the size)? Both are private companies and both offer services that include messaging. Why is Facebook allowed to refuse to provide services to certain people or groups of people or to censor what is said on it but a baker isn't? If anything, the baker has a better case because he or she is actually being required to say something with their artistic talents while Facebook isn't required to say anything. The equivalent is a baker who sells a cake and a tube of frosting and lets the customer write whatever they want. No one would argue that the baker has a right to control that. But that's exactly what they are arguing. Facebook provides a "cake" (a platform) and gives the user a tube of frosting to say whatever they want. The public accommodation law has no merit here. If Facebook is not subject to public accommodation laws, then baker's shouldn't be either. Both should be allowed to run their business as they see fit. 

But if Facebook has certain government protection (Sec 230), then there are higher standards that a baker doesn't have.

I agree with Dave that once we have let the camel's nose in the tent, we have lost. It would be better for government to stay out of it.

josh p's picture

Yes I believe government should stay out of it all together. Facebook, google, etc. are private companies. It's unfortunate that its so hard to get reliable information about it but what can do. 

Don Johnson's picture

I don't understand all the ins and outs of the law, but I listened to this podcast featuring Andy McCarthy of National Review recently. 

I think towards the last third of this podcast, Andy and Rich Lowry discuss the Facebook situation. Andy suggests that if FB wants to avail themselves of "Section 230" - a law that exempts internet publishers from lawsuits, then they should be required to follow the federal rules on free speech as laid out by the Supreme Court. That is, you can't threaten or incite violence, etc. There are clear directives there. Everything else is fair game and FB shouldn't get involved.

On the other hand, if FB wants to censor permitted speech, then it loses its exemption from lawsuits.

That is probably an oversimplification, and I may be missing key points, but that's what I understand about what he said. I think he is going to write something up on this, so maybe it will come out soon.

Maranatha!
Don Johnson
Jer 33.3

dcbii's picture

EditorModerator

I haven't had a chance to listen to the podcast that Don references above, but my position would be very similar to what those men are saying.

If FB/Twitter/etc. are taking advantage of section 230, then their standards should be the same as federal rules on free speech.  Any time they censor (i.e. what they are calling "content modification") a post, they should be required to publicly answer what standard the post violated, and how, and demonstrate that it goes against federal speech regulations.  There should be no internal, private standards that they can refer to obliquely without saying what they are or how the post was in violation.

If they want to be treated as a completely private company, with the right to censor anything they please, then they should not be afforded section 230 protection, and they should be liable for any inaccurate information or violation of laws/regulations on free-speech or viewpoint discrimination, the same as (at least nominally) applies to any other publisher.

Dave Barnhart

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I've heard many conflicting claims about what section 230 does and doesn't mean. Sounds like you've done some reading on it. Have any links in addition to the podcast above?

Views expressed are always my own and not my employer's, my church's, my family's, my neighbors', or my pets'. The house plants have authorized me to speak for them, however, and they always agree with me.