January 3, 2009

"I Wonder How Quickly I Can Find 1,000,000 People Who Support Israel."

That's the name of a Facebook group that I just got an invitation to join. I click over:
ONCE WE REACH 100,000 MEMBERS, WE WILL PETITION FACEBOOK TO REMOVE ALL GROUPS WHICH SAY THINGS SUCH AS "G-D BLESS HITLER," "F--K THE JEWS," "F--K ISRAEL," ETC., AND GROUPS WHICH ENCOURAGE VIOLENCE AGAINST AND/OR THREATEN JEWS, ISRAELIS, OR THE NATION OF ISRAEL AS A WHOLE.

Though this may appear to be a violation of the First Amendment (Freedom of Speech), we have learned it is not. The Bill of Rights only applies to the Government, and entails that the Government cannot obstruct with the rights of the people. Facebook is a private company, and not owned, funded, or operated by the Government; thus the Freedom of Speech law does not apply for them. The rules for Facebook are made by it's creators, and listed in the Terms of Use page. There, on the fourth bullet point under the User Conduct section, it clearly states that no Facebook user can "upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable."
Sorry. My free speech values extend a lot farther than what's protected by the First Amendment. And I think Facebook's Terms of Use are horrifyingly restrictive. Censoring everything "hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable"? Ridiculous! I'd rather join a Facebook group called "Facebook's Terms of Use Are an Affront to Free Speech."
________________

P.S. I support Israel.

50 comments:

Fred4Pres said...

I fully support Israel, but I would rather have the free speech and see who is out there saying stuff (so to speak) than trying to repress it.

Of course try to engage in any free speach at Daily Kos and you get immediately shut down. They will not tollerate anyone who says anything remotely pro GOP or conservative. Try it. Register as a Kos Diarist and try to say something even remotely challenging to their positions.

rcocean said...

IF you can say "GD America" you should be able to say "F**K Israel".

Funny, if any other group was doing this in support of any other country, you'd see a perfect storm of protest from pretty much everyone. The number of people who are consistent on free speech is very small.

But I say free speech for those who love Israel and for those who don't.

Kev said...

I generally agree with you here; the more speech, the better. (Even if what some people say is ridiculous, it's better for that ridiculousness to have the widest possible audience so that others can choose to ignore what they say in the future.)

But one item in the Terms of Use gives me pause:

"There, on the fourth bullet point under the User Conduct section, it clearly states that no Facebook user can "upload, post, transmit, share, store or otherwise make available any content that we deem to be harmful, threatening, unlawful, defamatory, infringing, abusive, inflammatory, harassing, vulgar, obscene, fraudulent, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable." (emphasis mine)

Being Jewish has been described as both a religion and an ethnicity (converts notwithstanding, of course). So does the ethnic portion of being Jewish trump the religious portion enough to rise to the level of being protected under the Terms of Use here?

Jennifer said...

Well, I agree with you here. But, I'm wildly irritated to realize that Facebook has been on a frenzied mission to remove any and all pictures of breastfeeding mothers but is perfectly happy to host "Fuck the Jews" et al...

Christopher Althouse Cohen said...

Shouldn't facebook be consistent about which groups it applies the anti-hate speech rules to? If they have terms that say you can't have a hate group but they allow anti-Semitic ones, that's a problem.

Titushadaneggsandwich said...

I support Israel. Their soldiers are hot.

Titushadaneggsandwich said...

Israel lets gays in the military so I really support them.

Lem said...

Censoring everything "hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable"? Ridiculous!

I'm with the professor. If you legitimize, as it were, censorship for one issue you give aid and comfort to the forces of censorship everywhere.

How could we ask other countries like China to have free press and to open up the Internet when we ourselves engage in the same censorship practices.

rcocean said...

Israel is wrong on Gays. The Gays are too valuable to put at risk. Keep our Gays safe.

SteveR said...

Another option, if one does like Facebook's Terms of Use (or how they apply it or don't apply it), is to not use Facebook.

Original George said...

Facebook's rules are no more "horrifyingly restrictive" than the rules at 10,000 newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations that editors, journalists, actors, and producers live with every minute of every day.

You get to set your Free Speech rules; Facebook gets to set its, too.

walter neff said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
walter neff said...

How many times did Cederford sign up?

rcocean said...

Doesn't "otherwise objectionable" pretty much cover everything?

Freeman Hunt said...

If they have terms that say you can't have a hate group but they allow anti-Semitic ones, that's a problem.

I agree with Christopher. Perhaps they should change their terms, but that would need to be for everyone. It is a real embarassment if anti-Semitic groups get a special pass.

MadisonMan said...

Facebook has been on a frenzied mission to remove any and all pictures of breastfeeding mothers

My impression is that they remove pictures of exposed breasts.

David said...

I stand with Althouse on this one.

Zeb Quinn said...

Sorry. My free speech values extend a lot farther than what's protected by the First Amendment.

Okay. Where do you draw the line? When is a private party rightly entitled to say that's enough to bad taste? Or is there no line?

Ann Althouse said...

"Where do you draw the line? When is a private party rightly entitled to say that's enough to bad taste? Or is there no line?"

In what context? If they are in my house, I'll kick them out whenever I want. Are you talking about what Facebook should do? The internet generally? The public square? Schools?

TosaGuy said...

don't have a big problem with Facebook's TOS because it is simply trying to manage it's playground that people pay absolutely no money to use. With that said, it should be consistent with its TOS, which is hard to do in the age of victimization.

The best solution is for the market to create a rival Facebook with an everything goes TOS. This would provide the maximum freedom to the service provider on how to run their business as well as for the customer with regard on how to speak his mind.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
"If they are in my house, I'll kick them out whenever I want. Are you talking about what Facebook should do? The internet generally? The public square? Schools?"

You have the right to exclude speech from your house because you have a property interest in it, I suppose. If you choose to open your home for a morning - a yard salem a coffee morning, an art exhibit or somesuch - you presumably retain the right to kick out people you choose for speech you don't like, because you have the right to open the property on limited terms of your choosing. Your guests are there at your sufferance, because it's your property.

Presumably, moreover, a renter would be in an identical position, having sufficient propery interest to exclude speech they don't like from their home. If so (an internet presence is more akin to rental than ownership), doesn't a private entity have sufficient property rights to make its property available on limited terms?

AlphaLiberal said...

Agreed on free speech values, but Facebook has their own commercial space, so I guess they can do what they want. (Though I do bristle when shopping malls restrict free speech while co-opting the public square).

There are certainly a lot of anti-semites out there and they should be denounced.

On the broader Israel theme, I wish we had freedom of speech on this particular topic in this country. But any criticism of Israeli policy is wrongfully attacked as "anti-semitic" in the US.

They have more open and freer discussions of Israel policies in Israel than what is allowed here. That really needs to change, but anyone broaching the subject is viciously attacked - just ask Jimmy Carter.

AlphaLiberal said...

So, what about shopping malls? We used to have town squares and such, which have been supplanted by shopping malls. Malls are somewhat analogous to Facebook.

In the town square, you could practice free speech, pull up a soap box, handout a flier for a candidate or cause.

But now the mall company owns that formerly public space. The town square has been privatized.

So, you can't even pass out those fliers to engage the democratic process or you'll be removed from the premises. It's a profoundly anti-democratic development.

To my mind they've taken the private property control over free speech way too far. An analogy to a personal home simply doesn't hold water, they're very different.

But there are numerous gray areas and I'm not sure what sort of rule would be best.

Lem said...

If they are in my house, I'll kick them out whenever I want..

This discussion reminds me of the Palmiery Yglesias brouhaha

Where Althouse said..

If "the views expressed on Matt’s blog are his own," then what the hell is this? Lady, you are on Matt's blog! ...

...either way, the invasion of a man's blog is unjustified, wrong, and also stupid. It's stupid, because even if you don't mind pushing around a respected blogger, you're doing it where everyone can see.


Interesting penumbra the internet.

Meade said...

"P.S. I support Israel."

Fearless.

"Jimmy Carter"

not.

Zeb Quinn said...

In what context?

The context I thought we were already in, Facebook. Or, more generally, the owner of any blog or website which invites comments or other expression. So that would mean MySpace, even Althouse.

You let a lot go here, and that's fine, but even you sometimes impose limits. Are you saying your opinion of where to draw the line is the right line for others too, such as for Facebook? Is the Facebook context different that the Althouse context?

ricpic said...

Israel lets gays in the military so I support them.

But what about those Israeli Jews, the orthodox, for whom homosexuality is an abomination? Can a gay - in good conscience, haha haha - soldier defend them? What is a gay to do? Oh what is a gay to do?

Cabbage said...

Facebook needs an Althouse fan page.

montana urban legend said...

The ethos of certain precincts within cyberspace are an affront to free thought.

Lem said...
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Lem said...

BTW - I support Israel too.. but I hesitate to say it sometimes because it has a hintergedanke of compulsion to it.

I don't know. it's like I support the troops, and I do, but I don't want to feel compelled to say so.

BTW - my best friends are democrats ;)

ricpic said...

hintergedanke = hidden agenda, for those like me who didn't know. Cool term.

Jennifer said...

My impression is that they remove pictures of exposed breasts.

I'm under the opposite impression, MM. My understanding is that they have deemed pictures of nursing moms categorically offensive and remove them all regardless of how little breast (if any) is exposed.

Jennifer said...

I mean, I realize that Facebook is saying the opposite of that. But, here is an example of a picture they removed and I don't actually see any exposed breast.

Lem said...

Its like Bill Burr says, in real life, expressions of hate are very subtle..

Real racism is quiet.. and so is anti-semitism.

How do you tell?

Lem said...

hintergedanke

I first heard of it listening to the Alan Watts lecture series on WFMU.

Titushadaneggsandwich said...

Also, Iraelis have nice cut hogs.

Did you go the skin from a cut hog is called an Orla?

Do you know how I found that out?

My doc, who is a jew-natch, asked how I came up with the name Orla for my dog. I told him how and he told me that in Israel Orla is skin of a hog. Isn't that interesting? I didn't even know that. It just goes to show that my log of the hog is unsconscious or subliminal or something like that.

Not knowing Orla meant skin of a cut hog and naming my dog Orla just by coincidence. What is the word I am trying to use to illustrate this fascinating story?

So one of my rare clumbers is named after the circumcized skin of an Israeli hog.

BJM said...

Alpha Liberal said: But now the mall company owns that formerly public space. The town square has been privatized.


Poppycock, unless your city or town sold the land that the town square occupied and converted the space to commercial, then the mall it is not and was never public space.

Shopping malls are zoned, taxed and regulated as commercial property, they are owned and/or operated by private & public companies for profit and pay taxes that support public spaces.

That the public chooses to gather in the public spaces of a mall does not make the space "public" to use as we see fit, any more than the local coffee house's arm chair section is our "private" living room.

Back on topic, I don't understand why our society continues to tolerate antisemitism. It is antithetical to a multi-cultural society.

Opposition to Israel/Zionism too often masks bigotry, just as did a segment of opposition to Obama's candidacy. Neither should be tolerated in the public square.

Titushadaneggsandwich said...

not log of the hog, I meant "love of the hog".

Titushadaneggsandwich said...

Also, my jewish doctor who is straight is the best.

I hate having a prostate exam-yes people some gays don't like stuff put in their butts.

My jewish doc has a primarily gay patient base and he told me one gay patient said he expects flowers, diiner and a movie before someone sticks their finger up his ass.

Bum da bump.

LutherM said...

ALTHOUSE is on the side of right when she supports free speech values.
Then she writes, "P.S. I support Israel."
Just a bit of history - in WW II, in some occupied areas, if a German soldier was killed, the reprisal used to be killing a multiple of civilians in the occupied area. In Greece, it would be 10 Greeks for each German - in Rome, 1944, the ratio was to be 10 Italians for each German. So, after a bomb killed 42 Germans on March 23, 1944, 335 persons were executed in the Ardeatine Caves near Rome. According to the Germans, those executed were mostly prisoners, and criminals, saboteurs, spies and partisans who had already previously been sentenced to death. After the war, the officer who ordered the reprisal killings, Obersturmbannf├╝hrer Herbert Kappler, was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment for this act, but his subordinates were acquitted. (Probably on the basis of "They were only following orders.")

It appears that the Israelis are following historical precedents. The only thing they may need to fear is losing the war.
(It might happen - some people have long memories regarding the murder of civilians, and there are a lot more Moslems than Jews.)

ricpic said...

Hey Luther, how many Pali rockets were supposed to fall on Israel before it would be okay for the Israelis to take off the gloves? 3,000? 5,000?

At least make an effort rather than writing from the Israel = Nazis handbook.

MadisonMan said...

But, here is an example of a picture they removed and I don't actually see any exposed breast.

From the linked-to story, Facebook says it will not take any proactive measures to prevent users from posting pictures, but if people mark the photos as offensive they may be removed. Perhaps the nursing mother should be more selective in her friends, if they are alerting facebook to pictures they find offensive.

FWIW, I can't see anything in that picture at all. Bifocals needed.

cubanbob said...

LutherM short and sweet you are full of shit. Germans rounded civilians at random from the nearby villages and shot them as reprisals.

That Arabs are cowards, just like the communists, and site military targets in civilian areas for the express purpose of causing civilian deaths makes them no different than the Germans. If the Arabs gave a crap about their own civilians they would not site their 'military' bases deep in civilian areas. They would ware uniforms to distinguish themselves from civilians. They don't, so all their pious wailing is fraudulent bullshit. Actions speak louder than words.

There maybe a lot more Muslims than Jews, but for the last sixty years its the Muslims that have been getting their ass kicked. The only reason this continues is because Israel is not allowed to bludgeon their enemies in to submission once and for all. Russia can blast Chechnya to hell, nary a peep. China crushes Tibet, nary a peep. The western allies firebomb Germany and Japan to submission, again no real complaints. Brutal, but it works. All those defeated countries are not picking fights with their former conquerors. Israel should forget world opinion and concern herself only in the quickest, cheapest and most militarily effective solution for her benefit.
If killing one hundred Gazans' is the price to save one Israeli soldier, do it. Assume the NGO's and press in Gaza are enemy agents and target them accordingly.

The Arabs can end this tomorrow by simply giving up.

cubanbob said...

"Sorry. My free speech values extend a lot farther than what's protected by the First Amendment. And I think Facebook's Terms of Use are horrifyingly restrictive. Censoring everything "hateful, or racially, ethnically or otherwise objectionable"? Ridiculous! I'd rather join a Facebook group called "Facebook's Terms of Use Are an Affront to Free Speech."

Dear Ms. Althouse, do you reserve the right to ban commenters, delete comments or simply close comments? If so are you not acting like Facebook as well? Your dime and your blog so yes I do believe you have the right to your rules but so do the commercial sites as well.

Jennifer said...

Perhaps the nursing mother should be more selective in her friends, if they are alerting facebook to pictures they find offensive.

I think it's probably more likely that it was her profile picture and some random marked it offensive. Regardless, in the end, Facebook itself removes the pictures not the highstrung prudes.

And if it's just that easy to get violations removed, why are the aforementioned people trying to get 100,000 members in their group to formally protest things that clearly violate Facebook's Terms of Use?

I stand by my original assertion that Facebook is purging itself of nursing moms while happily hosting "Fuck the Jews"-ers. And I'm still irritated.

Ann Althouse said...

"You let a lot go here, and that's fine, but even you sometimes impose limits. Are you saying your opinion of where to draw the line is the right line for others too, such as for Facebook? Is the Facebook context different that the Althouse context?"

Yes, it's very different. Because individuals set up their own areas within the system. Facebook is more like Blogger.

I choose to have comments, and I choose to encourage some things and to tolerate a lot of other things, but there are some things I delete. My deletions are mainly in support of preserving the forum for everyone, not censoring any particular opinion. Thus, yesterday, I deleted 2 posts that were hijacking a thread to respond to something that happened in a different thread. That was an abuse of the forum that hurt the discussion and was completely unnecessary. I was preserving that thread so the discussion could go forward. Facebook doesn't have to worry about that, because people are policing their own areas within Facebook.

I also delete some things that name non-famous individuals, including insults to members of my family. That doesn't really relate to Facebook, although Facebook is entitled to respond to demands that defamation and invasions of privacy be removed. I appreciated it when Facebook responded to me after someone put up a Facebook page impersonating me.

traditionalguy said...

Hey, how often does the Academy Award picture Exodus run on Network tv or evan cable tv? The Orwelian formulae is alive and well : Those who control the past will control the future and those in power today are furiously eliminating the past and spinning a fantasy in its place. No wonder Obama knew he would win.

TitusReachForTheStars said...

Hello, one of my rare clumbers is named after the skin from a circumcized hog.

Don't ever accuse of me of not supporting Israel.

Eric Hammerbacher said...

You need to have a conversation about this with Jeff Hammerbacher at facebook pronto and get back to me ASAP.