Rights and Wrongs

What Does Facebook Think Free Speech is For?

8 days ago

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“Who should decide what is hate speech in an online global community?” That’s the question Richard Allan, Facebook’s Vice President for Policy in the Middle East and Asia, is asking in the wake of reporting on the social network’s content moderation guidelines. Reporting group ProPublica’s headline—“Facebook’s Secret Censorship Rules Protect White Men from Hate Speech But Not Black Children”—captures our almost dystopian fear of an all-powerful corporation rigging political discourse to serve shareholders, advertisers, and procrastinators the world over. Just imagine the 7,500-strong “community operations team” as uniformed propagandists searching for content that bucks the party line, and your Orwellian masterpiece is off to a fine start.

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“You’re Just Being Emotional!”

June 28, 2017

There are rats here. Big ones. Stuck following Google Maps on my first night in this part of Washington, D.C., I found myself facing a family of them hours after arriving in the city. It occurred to me that our showdown would be a good test: I’ve heard that it’s important to “challenge yourself” during the summer.

My test of courage went south when I began imagining how, in my CVS-bought flip flops, one of the creatures would bite onto my big toe and send me scurrying to George Washington Hospital for weeks of rabies vaccines. I fled towards the cover of streetlights feeling a mixture of terror and embarrassment. The notion that I needed to do anything other than continue walking at my ordinary pace was, I told myself, “just an emotional reaction.” And sometimes I like to think that my judgments come from a more trustworthy source.

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