No, I’m not kidding. Last night on a Facebook thread discussing the murder of Jamal Khashoggi, the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated journalist and pundit who ran afoul of the Saudi government and was apparently tortured to death after he made the mistake of accepting an invitation to the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, I said that the Saudis, meaning the government of Saudi Arabia, were scum and that the Turks, meaning the government of Turkey, was now worse.
Based on the fact that the Saudis think it’s fine to torture one of their own citizens to death. And on the fact that the Turks, who might well have set the whole thing up as a false flag operation to make the Saudis look bad and increase their influence among the Sunni Muslim world (there’s an excellent Daniel Greenfield piece at Front Page Mag well worth reading on the subject, though it most certainly does not paint Khashoggi in a sympathetic light and he doesn’t much deserve it given his longtime friendship with Osama bin Laden), have established themselves as one of the world’s most quickly-descending regimes in terms of human rights. The just-ended ordeal of Pastor Andrew Brunson, who was jailed under brutal conditions for almost two years on specious and trumped-up charges as part of a massive purge by the Erdogan government after a failed coup attempt he had nothing to do with, points out that the Turkish government is most certainly scum – and given the slow trend toward liberalization in Saudi Arabia, I’ll make the argument that the Turks might very well now be worse as oppressive regimes go.
That was last night. This morning there was this…
And Facebook tells me I’m now banned for 30 days.
Because criticizing foreign governments with beyond-the-pale human rights records, including honest-to-God genocides on their escutcheons (as is the case with Turkey, as practiced against the Armenians), is now “hate speech” according to Facebook. I don’t see any prohibitions on criticizing foreign governments in Facebooks terms of service; perhaps they might want to update those to reflect the new rules.
And there’s a midterm election coming up in 21 days.
I’m a columnist with a national political publication and I’ve got perhaps the most influential conservative website in Louisiana with reach throughout the South and I’m being silenced by Facebook for the duration of the midterm election cycle…because I voiced a pretty commonly-held concern about a pair of problematic Middle Eastern regimes.
You can take that in whatever context you want, and you can be as suspicious about it as you want. For myself, I’m fine with taking a break from Facebook, and frankly I wish that platform was less important in the promotion of this site’s content – because I would love to be able to tell Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of his digital fascisti to jump in a lake and never use their product again.
It’s enough for me that Facebook essentially stole marketing dollars we invested with them to grow our presence on their platform last year by changing their algorithm to rob us of the return on that investment. I was ready to jettison the entire enterprise in January and February when the results of that stunt became obvious.
And now that Facebook chose to delete the accounts of some 800 political websites just before this midterm cycle, most of them conservative, that’s another major strike.
And now this?
Facebook is going to have to come to a decision pretty soon, and it’s one they’re poorly prepared for. Because items like this point out the fact that Facebook is deciding to assume the role of publisher rather than that of a forum for free expression. In the latter case, the proprietor takes a very light role in censoring content posted by users on his platform – perhaps foul language or explicit sexual or violent content is proscribed, given standards the general public can readily agree to, but otherwise it’s anything goes. The downside of operating as a free forum is your users might well behave badly and make the forum a less hospitable place than it should be.
But when you cross over the line toward taking an active role in censoring the content appearing on your platform and you become a curator and publisher of content, you assume responsibilities Zuckerberg and his children’s crusade at Facebook clearly haven’t given much thought to. Because a publisher can get sued, and often. And if Facebook is going to censor its users for posting content Facebook doesn’t like, Facebook is going to find itself in court defending lots of cases brought by people who don’t like libelous or injurious content posted on its platform that Facebook hasn’t censored.
This is what nobody at Facebook seems to understand, but their time is coming. And increasingly, when it does come you’ll search high and low for people who’ll care a whit about Mark Zuckerberg’s problems.
You certainly won’t find a sympathetic ear here. Especially not for the next 30 days.
Editor’s Note: feel free to connect with our new account at Gab…https://gab.ai/TheHayride.