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The hypocrisy of how “Facebook Police” enforce community standards

“We do not allow hate speech on Facebook because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence…Sometimes people share content containing someone else’s hate speech for the purpose of raising awareness or educating others. In some cases, words or terms that might otherwise violate our standards are used self-referentially or in an empowering way.” – Facebook Community Standards, October 2020 Update

In public post to Facebook I linked my recent article Ignoring Domestic Terrorism and the Propaganda that Blinds Us to Its Threat. As is normally the case, I shared a link to the article without any issues. Multiple other people also shared the link with no problem.

To my dismay, many other people were not allowed to share the link, with Facebook claiming it violated their so-called community standards. Some were banned for a day and at least one person posted that they received a 30 day suspension from Facebook.

I cannot explain why anyone was chastised because of the article link. Some used quotes from the article and were perfectly okay, while others were told by the Facebook police that the content violated their so-called community standards.

You might have noticed I said so-called community standards two times. That was because this organization, which has allowed the spewing of hate speech, ridiculous conspiracy theories, racist attacks against former President Barack Obama, rants against social justice protestors and Holocaust deniers for years, has all of a sudden found room to say something is wrong with linking to an article I wrote. Now they have the righteousness to warn us all about the danger of domestic terrorists, while not seeming too interested in removing those groups from its platform.

They had no such community standards when these thugs used Facebook to recruit crazies to come to Kenosha with assault rifles, after the shooting of unarmed Jacob Blake. They had no such algorithms busting up the dangerous use of hate speech by white supremacists and those who use dog whistle language to get their point across.

My issues with Facebook have multiple layers. Let’s start with this particular incident. How can they explain that some were able to share the article with no problem while others could not? Is their algorithm that inaccurate that they flag some but not others? If that is the case, it is useless. Secondarily, there is nothing in the article that approaches even remotely the use of so-called hate speech.

I quoted Joseph Goebbels multiple times to draw a parallel between how he used propaganda as a tool to lie to the German people, and how the exact same things are being done today. I called out the lack of attention to domestic terrorists that people insist on calling “militia groups.” This is not 1790. There is no justification for militia groups. There are over 800,000 sworn police officers across the country and we have by far the strongest military on the planet.

These people are not militia, they are angry White men and boys, who are mad that the extreme advantages White people have taken for granted for so long are disappearing as marginalized people of color are speaking their minds about systemic racism. They ignore the fact that many of the factors relating to them seeing a world that does not have streets paved with gold for White people any longer are a direct result of many of the politicians they love best.

Back to Facebook. This quote is particularly troubling to me. “We do not allow hate speech on Facebook because it creates an environment of intimidation and exclusion and in some cases may promote real-world violence…” Do they think we are idiots and can’t see through the hypocrisy of these words?

Facebook, among many other so-called social media platforms, have been harbingers of hate speech for years. They just decided now that somehow hate speech leads to real world violence? Do they take any responsibility for the murder of the two men shot by a White Supremacist in Kenosha? Do they take any responsibility for the violence in Charlottesville in 2017? Do they take any responsibility for the trauma suffered by the many in the Jewish community who had to endure the ignorant, hateful Holocaust denials that Facebook just realized is bad?

These people at Facebook, led by their fearless leader, are a part of the reason the country is as divided as it is right now. They have been this creepy space that people can hide from their true identities to spread lies, rumors, nonsensical conspiracy theories, and hatred unabated. Don’t try to convince me that people sharing my article – which warned about the people Facebook has allowed to use their platform – is somehow equated with those same people. It would be like saying the National Weather Service issuing hurricane warnings is as responsible for the damage caused by a hurricane as the hurricane itself.

It is an infringement on free speech. There is not one iota of hate speech in the article. Quoting Goebbels is not hate speech. It is historical contextualization. People cannot learn from the past without studying the past. We cannot understand the monstrous people among us today without seeing how they use the same policies and practices of their horrific predecessors.

I have to be perfectly honest about my views of Facebook. For years I would not touch it with a ten foot pole because I felt is was a cesspool of unreasoned garbage being spread as information and education. I still feel the same way. I use it only as a tool to reach a broad audience. I abhor Facebook personally. I think it has some very good qualities when it comes to connecting folks and having them share the joys and tragedies of life.

On the other hand, Facebook allows trolls with nothing better to do with their time to spread fear. Facebook is not a social media company in my opinion. They are a data mining company. Using sophisticated techniques to learn everything possible about their billions of users to sell their information to the highest bidder.

They were able to help decide the 2016 presidential election by helping firms like Cambridge Analytica to mine peoples habits and influence how they voted. According to the New York Times “Cambridge Analytica, a political data firm hired by President Trump’s 2016 election campaign, gained access to information on 50 million Facebook users as a way to identify the personalities of American voters and influence their behavior.”

“The data … included details on users identities, friend networks, and ‘likes.’ The idea was to map personality traits based on what people had liked on Facebook, and then use that information to target audiences with digital ads.”

So for these people to now claim some moral high ground is laughable. I for one will continue to write in the way that I always have. I will not allow the thought police at Facebook to determine what I express and share. As I said in a column earlier this year, “I Write What I Like.”

“The thought police would get him just the same. He had committed – would have committed, even if he had never set pen to paper – the essential crime that contained all others in itself. Thoughtcrime, they called it. Thoughtcrime was not a thing that could be concealed forever. You might dodge successfully for a while, even for years, but sooner or later they were bound to get you.” – George Orwell, “1984”

About The Author

Reggie Jackson

As an award-winning Senior Columnist for the Milwaukee Independent, Reggie Jackson covers a range of African American issues. He is also a Consultant with Nurturing Diversity Partners, and volunteers as Head Griot for America’s Black Holocaust Museum (ABHM) in Bronzeville.