I wrote in April how Facebook has no obligation to post lies and bullshit. Free speech doesn’t mean forcing companies to help broadcast defamation, and Facebook has a real problem with defamatory news. Has Facebook taken the seriousness of its problem to heart?

Alt-right conspiracy nut Alex Jones was suspended from his personal Facebook account for thirty days for violating community standards. The suspension comes shortly after YouTube pulled four of Infowars’ videos for being false and full of conspiracy theories.

The alt-right will be quick to whine that they are victims. Trendy members of the ordinary right will talk about how “ideas should compete in the free marketplace of ideas.” Jones, however, isn’t sharing ideas or competing to make an argument or report news. He’s lying and slandering people. (And YouTube and Facebook aren’t the government; they are media platforms.)

As of July 20, Facebook and YouTube continue to host content of his that claim the victims of school shootings are “paid actors” and that “#PizzaGate” is a thing.

Facebook defended itself on the basis that, “No survivors were alleged to be lying, acting, or pretending to be a victim of the tragic event.” Alt-right media figures, Donald Trump, and other people without the courage of their convictions to express themselves straightforwardly and confidently, thus get a pass because they intentionally include a modicum of (implausible) deniability and deny what they actually said after the fact.

In fact, Jones’ videos were removed from YouTube not because they were untrue conspiracy theories but because they violated regulations about hate speech and violence.

The video showing the child being shoved was posted to dozens of channels and was removed in each instance, sources said. Jones’ channel previously received a strike from YouTube in February after it promoted the false theory that survivors of the Parkland shooting were actually trained “crisis actors.” That violated YouTube’s policy against harassment and bullying.

So, for future reference, if you want to post a video about a murderous rampage being faked, make sure to concoct some fake shadowy figure as your “crisis actor.”

Feature photo by Flickr user Sean P. Anderson. Modified by Mitchell Blatt. Creative Commons.


Related Posts