Source: Apple bans Alex Jones podcasts; Facebook pulls four pages
But not Twitter – says Jones’ does not violate their policies.
Alex Jones is a long time conspiracy theorist (everything that happens in the world is a plot by secret powers) who used social media platforms to amplify his often untrue and hurtful ideas. Millions of people are said to have subscribed to his propaganda operation.
(Amusingly, Apple, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, PInterest, LinkedIn, and MailChimp – all made their shutdown effective roughly simultaneously, which in turn, is feeding the conspiracy theories that this was a coordinated shutdown by Big Tech…. arghhh…)
Separately, earlier this year, Patreon cut off China’s most watched Youtuber and Maker, Naomi Wu. It’s a complicated story but Vice.com apparently used their legal team to cut off Wu’s Patreon account (and her primary source of funding). Their “legal team” was Sarah Jeong, a lawyer recently appointed to the NY Times Editorial Board. Jeong has come under fire for hateful and angry tweets of her own.
Elsewhere, left wing Media Matters advocates that Facebook should censor “climate change deniers”.
When social media organizations cut off access, it raises questions about the power of corporations to control what we see, what we read, and how we are influenced. Censorship is one of the most powerful forms of propaganda as it cuts off alternate views from being expressed, especially from those we may disagree with. Censorship is the opposite of diversity.
The traditional view of free speech is that the answer to speech we do not like is more speech, not censorship.
Update: Social media platforms have long argued they are not responsible for the user content on their platforms, claiming a “safe harbor” that they are similar to a telephone company which is not responsible for the content of phone calls. However, once they begin censoring the content on their platform, they are de facto admitting they are responsible for the content posted on their platforms. It is difficult to see how these companies can have it both ways – not responsible yet responsible for content.
Many people publish items on social media that can at best be described as dumb, but which are also hurtful, mean, and in some cases, are offensive “hate speech”. Many notable personalities have lost their job over past comments. Many of those cut off were posting items that lack class and decorum and were mostly rude to obscenely rude and hurtful. What prompts such people to engage in this way on line?
There are many recent incidents where it seems arrogance plays a role. Perhaps more on that another day.