Sunday, July 29, 2018

Should Facebook Censor Videos by Climate Deniers?

Bill Nye. Marc Morano.

There is a censorship trend starting up that I really hope doesn't catch on, but I'm afraid it might in this day and age.

I started noticing it in the last two weeks with regard to Facebook's problems regarding Alex Jones and Infowars. There were some mentions of climate denial in that argument too.

But for me it came front and center with Dana Nuccitelli's article in The Guardian, "Facebook video spreads climate denial misinformation to 5 million users."

As I tweeted to him, this wasn't a "Facebook video," it was a video by a Facebook user. Big difference. No reply from him. That's OK. I'm small fry.

But once you start telling us who should be getting censored (and, therefore, who shouldn't be), don't be surprised when fortunes change and YOU'RE the one getting censored.


I don't want Dana Nuccitelli and the SkS boys telling us who should be censored for their views on climate change.

Or Mark Zuckerberg and his boys.

I'm not in favor of anyone getting censored for their views. Should the phone companies -- AT&T, Verizon, Sprint -- start denying climate skeptics ("skeptics") the right to talk on the phone to other climate skeptics?

Should the Heartland Institute not be allowed to host a conference call with the press -- whichever press wishes to dial in -- to spout their stupid climate change denial?

Not be allowed to put up a billboard, if they wish? PLEASE, let them do it again. Did anything do more to ruin their reputation. (No, I don't think so.)

Once you start telling us should be censored, by Facebook or whoever, don't come back and complain when later you're the one getting censored, when fortunes change.

Can't happen, right? You're on the side of good and they're on the side of evil.


This is, to be blunt, an arrogance that I see in the Skeptical Science people that I've never been able to quite shake. 97%! We run classes! We don't have time for you and your silliness.

THAT'S what worries me about these new attempts to censor inconvenient ideas.

Not that I think those ideas are right -- I think Marc Morano is a well-paid propagandist and a climate criminal -- but don't tell me who you think we should be censoring.

Free speech is inconvenient, but necessary.

The only thing worse than allowing Marc Morano's videos to be seen by 5 million people is censoring him in the first place.


Frank Rosser said...

Technically Facebook is not censoring, it wants to show "fake news" or misinformation less or even not at all on it's platform.
If Facebook defines what is meant by "fake news" or misinformation in it's terms and conditions, and acts on this honestly, I say they should do it.
What Facebook is trying to avoid is helping spread "fake news" and misinformation.

David Appell said...

Frank - so Facebook (only) gets to decide what is "fake news" and "misinformation?"

That's a very dangerous track to travel down.

And, I'll add, exactly the kind of response that deniers (of all stripes) are hoping for -- "someone trying to censor the truth" (they'll say).

Layzej said...

There must be a case for censuring (or at least clearly labeling) hostile government actors or anonymously-hosted fake news websites that publish stories fabricated out of thin air.

I get that as a journalist you take a hard line on freedom of speech, but...

Frank Rosser said...

David Appell.

"Facebook (only) gets to decide what is "fake news" and "misinformation?"

Well yes, they do. It's their platform after all so they can decide.

If Facebook was just a passive carrier, then there is an argument that they should be hands off. But Facebook is not passive, THEY ALREADY DECIDE what appears on your screen when you login to their service. If they are the ones deciding, then they have at least some responsibility.

Personally, I think Facebook does not care about it's users feelings as the users are the product Facebook is selling to it's advertisers.

Layzej said...

Looks like Katharyn Hayhoe has similar concerns: "Facebook says this episode of our @PBSDS show, Global Weirding, which tackles clean energy myths like “wind turbines slow the earths rotation!” has too much “political content” to be eligible for promotion. What do YOU think?" -

David Appell said...

Layzej: You made some good points, but Katheryn Hayhoe's comment illustrates the problem: once censorship starts, it can encompass a great deal.

I'm not saying Facebook shouldn't kick out white supremacists and anti semites and the like. But Marc Morano isn't in that category, even if some of his statements are demonstrably false. Who hasn't written something demonstrably false? Does that mean they should be censored, even if just the FB post or comment where they wrote it?

Layzej said...

Fair enough.