Thursday, May 02, 2019

Facebook Purge 4.0: Milo, Laura, Paul Watson, Louis Farrakan, and all of Info Wars

Today, around 2 PM EDT, Facebook banned several “controversial” users:  Milo Yiannopoulos, Laura Loomer, Paul Joseph Watson,  Paul Nehlen, Louis Farrakhan (“Million Man March” in DC in October 1995) and Alex Jones. The ban also applies to Facebook subsidiary Instagram. 

For Alex Jones, all sites related to him were removed as users, and Facebook users are even forbidden from linking to them unless they condemn them – which sounds like para-compelled speech.

Facebook says it bans “dangerous individuals or groups” even when the said users haven’t explicitly broken their rules. FB has its own explanation of its latest policy from mid April here

That says, a monopolistic digital state can declare who is “dangerous”, which is ironically the name of Milo’s book and publishing company.

The story broke on several generally liberal sites when the news should have been embargoed, and an hour or so before the ban went into effect. Wired, (Paris Martineau)  for example, and The Verge (Casey Newton) give details.  The Verge, as updated, refers to praise or support of Tommy Robinson and Gavin McKinnes as the reason for some of the bannings and links to another story of a massive Facebook purge of specific British extremist groups. But this is disturbing because Facebook (or any other company that would follow their example) is declaring people "dangerous" based on statements they have made about other (supposed) extremists.  It would be very hard for any online speaker to know objectively which "extremists" have already been seen as to be excluded and "contagious" to anyone who talks about them -- this sounds like an attempt to wall off all right wing content way beyond the past accepted meanings of right wing extremism or racist.   The identarian Left often calls "ordinary conservatives" racist or homophobic when they are not by normal usage of these ideas. 

On May 3 the Wall Street Journal offered a story by Georgia Wells that characterized the reason for the bannings as their views being too "inflammatory".  Toward the end, the article says that Facebook normally forbids support or "praise" of persons it has banned, even for activities off site.  It removes events from Facebook if it knows these events are going.  (Loomer says she is banned from Uber and Lyft, Paypal, etc, following earlier reports of banning of some people by payment processors).  This sounds like a very dangerous precedent. 

Jones, Watson and Loomer seem to be nixed over conspiracy theories – which used to be popular and taken with a grain of salt after 9/11.

The New York Times has a story by Mike Isaac and Kevin Rose in which Watson denies he violated any terms of service. Indy100 reports that Watson had supported a "parachute journalism" exercise in Sweden by Tim Pool in 2017 where Tim's experience did not confirm Trump's claims on European migration. 

As if this writing, Milo is still on YouTube, his “Dangerous” (ironic domain name) was working, and Amazon’s ad for his book works.  I realize he has said some “stupid things” and some subpopulations of the LGBTQ world may feel hurt or offended by his characterizations of some persons.  But I find nothing resembling political “neo-Nazism” in his content when I read it.  Maybe I just haven’t encountered it (I don't read 8chan, etc). He calls himself “dangerous” to the collectivist or identarian Left, and Facebook takes him at his word, it seems.  One video conspicuous on his channel simply professes that he believes in "meritocracy" and believes that "affirmative action" is essentially reverse racism.  Is this view inflammatory? It's been standard in the US GOP for decades. 
You can be conservative, and gay, and cis-male online and be nice.  Just don’t attack people, especially those who are not quite perfect enough. 

One issue I would wonder about is past posts about any of these persons, such as a review of Milo's book (which is not really very extreme at all) or Pam Geller's, which he helped publish.  Could, under SJW pressure to remove the extreme right (or abusers) from society, Bloggers be compelled to remove reviews or mentions?  How far would that go?  Why not remove all reviews of Weinstein Company films from the past because of Harvey Weinstein's scandal?  

There is one other concept -- the "conflict of interest" concern with regard to the workplace and blogging policies of the past (in the old Web 1.0 world) which I have written about in the past and which I to deal with personally in 1997 when I did a corporate transfer over the gays in the military issue.  I do agree with the general idea that Facebook, as a private company, has every right to protect its reputation and "brand" as generally understood, although not as a monopoly.  When someone makes a living from ads or patronage off a social media platform out of sheer volume of visitors or subscribers, there are legitimate questions that parallel my own problem in the past -- if you look at speakers on these platforms as "contractors" rather than as their own publishers.  I will have to look at this issue for platforms in the future, compared to what I had said about (management or "actuarial" worker) in the past.
Later May 3:  Tim Pool gives his detailed take on what is really going on here

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