January 16, 2015

After the massacre, Mark Zuckerberg justifies Facebook censorship.

"It wasn’t just a terrorist attack about just trying to do some damage and make people afraid and hurt people. This was specifically about people’s freedom of expression and ability to say what they want."
“That really gets to the core of what Facebook and the internet are, I think, and what we’re all here to do. We really stand up and try to make it so that everyone can have as much of a voice as possible,” he said.
The sleight of hand is: the greatest good for the greatest number. For "everyone" to have "as much" freedom of expression "as possible," some people need some silencing.
“There are limits and restrictions on these things, but across the board we generally are always trying to fight to help as many people as possible share as much as they want."
Again — "as many as possible" and "as much as they want" — this is the idea of the sum total of speech, shared by large numbers.
“One of the big questions that we struggle with: in an ideal world there would be way fewer laws restricting speech... The reality is most countries do actually have laws restricting one point of speech or another... So the real question is how do you navigate this?... The real question we weigh is does that actually give more people the ability to express more things? And the problem is if you break the law in a country, then oftentimes that country will just block the whole service entirely.... Which then makes it that millions of people are now deprived of the tools that they were using to communicate with their friends and their family and to express as much as possible. So it becomes a very tricky calculus. I can’t think of many examples in history where a company not operating or shutting down in a country in protest at a law like that has actually changed the law. However, here are a lot of examples that I can think of where a technology operating in a place, whether it’s telephones or the internet, enables a lot of opportunities for people in those places... The opportunity to stay connected to the people they love and their family and their friends, have business opportunities and growth in the economy and improvement in people’s lives. So I think overwhelmingly our responsibility is to continue pushing to give as many people the ability to share as much as possible.”
ADDED: When I started to read Zuckerberg's remarks, I thought they were going to go somewhere else. I thought he was going to say that by creating a more friendly environment within Facebook, more people would be encouraged to join and participate, and that would ultimately provide more speech for more people. The nasty, ugly speech would be silenced, but it could go elsewhere, and he was trying to facilitate speech by those who feel intimated or bullied or offended by the speech of others. But Zuckerberg is only justifying Facebook censorship as a response to repression coming from foreign governments.

15 comments:

Unknown said...

If you are on Facebook, you are doing your life wrong.

Matthew Sablan said...

Facebook has ALWAYS been pro-censorship. They've always been willing to delete/hide/ban people with unacceptable views, even when those views weren't actually likely to make people angry enough to shoot some French cartoonists.

Anonymous said...

Fu** you Facebook, account being deleted! You are not my censor!

Matthew Sablan said...

[Note: Facebook can censor whatever they want on their servers. Those are their servers. But, the point is that they've never been a bastion of free speech.]

TreeJoe said...

I'm torn between wanting to object to FaceBook and understanding it.

Zuckerberg was very upfront: FaceBook is a business whose value creation is out of gaining the largest number of people sharing very benign things. If they lose a billion users in China or Islamic countries because they are truly pro-free-speech, then they dramatically hurt their business with a low likelihood of changing those countries laws.

I don't like it or respect it, but I can understand it. And I can respect that Zuckerberg actually said that straight out with only minimal bullshitting.

YoungHegelian said...

@Matt Sablan,

But, the point is that they've never been a bastion of free speech.

And they censor you in such a dickish way! No notice that you've been censored, no appeal. Your just comment disappears or appears in some mangled form.

I can live with being censored. It's their servers, as you mention. But, I'd like to have an idea of what it was that got a particular message censored, so I can avoid it again.

kcom said...

"And I can respect that Zuckerberg actually said that straight out with only minimal bullshitting."

Which beats the hell out of the New York Times lying about why it wasn't showing the Charlie Hebdo cover. If your going to make a decision based on cowardice, you should come out and say it. Just as if you are censoring to protect your business interests, you should come out and say it.

Ann Althouse said...

"Facebook can censor whatever they want on their servers. Those are their servers."

Just because you CAN do something doesn't mean you should.

Facebook is a private business, but it is susceptible to arguments about what it should do with the power it has.

And the government is also susceptible to arguments about what it should do with the power it has. The First Amendment only limits government, but that doesn't mean the government won't sometimes be able to find the power to do some things that offend free speech VALUES, and it remains ever important to hold those values in our minds and in our culture so we can make those arguments... and ALSO so that the law of what free speech rights are does not become degraded.

SGT Ted said...

It's always group rights and not individual rights with leftists. Which allows them to then proclaim that it's certain groups that have rights and other groups don't deserve those same rights, because racistsexisthomophobes don't deserve the same rights of the good groups, who are always leftists.

The "it's only business" statement is excuse making by leftwing pussies to censor non-PC speech.

Matthew Sablan said...

Oh, I don't LIKE that they censor things, I just accept that they can. I'd rather they didn't, I just wanted to cut off at the pass any of the normal getting tripped up by people thinking "Well, they're not the government, so they're not infringing on your Free Speech!" arguments that confuse the issue.

Roger Sweeny said...

He may simply be telling the truth.

Sometimes there are no good options, only less bad ones.

SteveR said...

I started a Facebook group several years ago and its grown to over 25,000 members. I have a small team of admins and we try to keep the group away from hostility and negative topics. The members like the way we run it and I don't consider deleting an F*** You or something making fun of handicapped children censorship. People are free to join and play along or go somewhere else. Its a big internet.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said...The First Amendment only limits government, but that doesn't mean the government won't sometimes be able to find the power to do some things that offend free speech VALUES, and it remains ever important to hold those values in our minds and in our culture so we can make those arguments... and ALSO so that the law of what free speech rights are does not become degraded.

Spot on, Professor, well said--but also eerily similar to the line of reasoning used by people you dismissed without much consideration (if I remember correctly) a while back when the subject was the use of boycotts, campaigns to get individuals fired, etc on a different topic.

Kenyah Jonathan said...

I like the fact that he stands for the people, which is himself as well. It make perfect sense because as one human family, we are one in love and concerns for the future human freedoms. What happens to one happens to all infecting all.

Peter Bella said...

Another tool in a chest full of morons.