This is a post about Facebook Censorship, and how the world’s largest content consumption platform has betrayed our trust.
There is no doubt that you have heard controversies regarding the world’s largest social networking site, Facebook, in the past. These stories often revolve around the way Facebook’s algorithms work, or how they handle user’s private data – but they can be about a whole host of topics. Since they are the largest social networking site on the planet, Facebook have a pretty big moral and ethical responsibility to put their user’s interests before their own, but they have consistently failed to do so. Whether it is Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook’s CEO) insulting the sites users, or Facebook moderators removing the profiles of transgender people, for not using their legal names, there always seems to be some sort of controversy with Facebook. The latest news, however, is one which may come as a shock to millions of Facebook users.
It has recently came to light – through the admissions of former Facebook engineers – that Facebook has actively been censoring right-wing views of its users. This has been done using two methods. The first of these methods is by censoring (read: carefully selecting) the news that users see on Facebook’s own curated news box. The second method is by blocking and censoring posts and profiles made by influential right-wing users. Both of these methods are very similar to those read about in dystopia novels, and those employed by suppressive governments and regimes.
First of all, more about the careful curation of news to display what Facebook wants you to see. When the site’s ‘Featured’ section was made public, everybody in the software industry assumed that Facebook had employed a number of algorithms in order to display the most relevant news to individual users. This does not seem to be true, however, since Gizmodo has spoken to a number of former Facebook employees who claim to have personally selected news that they see fit for the Featured section of the site. Not only this, but they also claim to have been instructed to not show results relating to Facebook in the featured section. It’s difficult to see why Facebook wouldn’t simply rely purely on algorithms to do this job. If anybody is in a position where they have enough training data to effectively predict user trends, it is Facebook.
But it doesn’t stop there. While the censorship of the news stories it displays might not be that shocking, it is certainly unacceptable that they have taken it a step further and begun to censor user’s posts because it contains political views that Facebook’s employees do not agree with. One person on Twitter called Lauren Southern posted screenshots of her ban due to a post she made regarding the ban of one of her Conservative friends. Initially, many other responded with scepticism regarding the legitimacy of Lauren’s posts, but they were later found out to be true.
Obviously, this ongoing battle against freedom of expression online is one which Facebook are in a good position to win. They seem to disregard the preservation of individual freedom and self-thought, which sets a dangerous precedent for the evolution of our society. It seems obvious that dethroning Facebook is not just a goal but a vital one, since they have proved many times that they are not to be trusted with people’s data.
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