Okay, today I’m going to talk about a
n easy topic that probably has been discussed a million times in the last few weeks by people way smarter than I am.
Yet, some of you might actually care about someone else’s perspective.
Recently, Alex Jones has been all over every kind of media outlet, because his
fish oil shop conspiracy website InfoWars was banned from two kinda important websites: YouTube and Facebook.
Since he is allowed to say whatever he wants and deems worth saying, I don’t recognize this as censorship or a free speech violation.
Facebook and ~YouTube~ Alphabet are private companies and can decide for themselves who they deem “worthy” of their platform and its users. And, for that matter, so is InfoWars, which is why they reservce their rights to ban you, if you violate their policies and virtually agree with me 🙃
You might think otherwise and it’s completely fine and up to you. If I were Facebook and Alphabet, I would’ve made the same decisions.
Notably absent from the list above is Twitter. Twitter is arguably just as important as Facebook and YouTube are, but Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey supposedly overruled the moderation-teams decision to ban Alex Jones (Disclaimer: he denies that).
Alex Jones, in this case, is nothing more than a recent and controversial example.
If someone claims the sky is green instead of blue, they should totally be allowed to say that. But I have no legal obligations to give those people a possibility to talk about this on my platform.
There are platforms that allow free speech according to the American law, e.g. gab.ai. Basically since day one, gab.ai is toxic cesspool full of xenophobes and white supremacists that have been banned from other websites — and some users have turned against the site’s creator.
Mastodon, the decentralized, federated and FOSS alternative to the existing
birdsite microblogging service Twitter is — of course — not immune to this problem, why would it be?
Still, I consider Mastodon’s (or any other federated social network) a better solution for this problem, since you can
- a) choose any existing instance (like mine!) that might have rules that suit your views better 1
- b) even run your own instance to have your own rules and code of conduct 2
Since it’s federated, you can connect with users on other instances, with other code of conducts
(codes of conduct? codes of conducts?) while not having to rely on some big tech giant’s website that is censored because of it’s leftist agenda that censored you banned you, because you violated their community policies.
Of course, no social network is immune to hate speech, racism or whatever you consider bad behavior. No, not even federated ones, be it Mastodon, Pleroma or GNU social. Not because they are flawed and nobody actually cares, but because our societies are not immune to it. No amount of
business bullshit like Big Data, Blockchains or AI technology can solve this problem.
The only thing you can do is create clear, easy to understandable guidelines, follow them and enforce them if need be.
Update from September 7th, 2018
Twiter obviously read my blog post and finally acted accordingly:
Today, we permanently suspended @realalexjones and @infowars from Twitter and Periscope. We took this action based on new reports of Tweets and videos posted yesterday that violate our abusive behavior policy, in addition to the accounts’ past violations. https://t.co/gckzUAV8GL— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) September 6, 2018
- Hint: if you are a white supremacist, holocaust denier or any other kind of idiot, please stay away from ffm.social, or we’ll ban you. [return]
- If you run an instance, that does things differently and allows free speech (in the american way), it is very likely that you’ll end up on this list [return]