When the "fact checkers" are liars
Free speech is under fire today, both from "private" platforms and the government officials pressuring them for more censorship.
The moderation team at Facebook (also known as The Ministry of Truth) does not approve of your memes. Therefore, they will "fact check" what you post on Facebook and threaten to penalize your account if you share "offensive" memes. But what happens when the "fact checkers" are openly fabricating "false" statements that were never made? That is happening right now on Facebook, to the point that they are even adding "fact checks" to posts that agree with the Ministry of Truth.
A friend of mine posted this on Facebook:
"Tolerance will reach such a level that intelligent people will be banned from thinking so as not to offend the imbeciles."
His post was hidden and replaced with this "fact check."
False information. The same information was checked in another post by independent fact-checkers.
Of course, this is a lie. The post did not attribute that quote to anyone, and my friend said in the comments that the common attribution is likely false. So the Ministry of Truth is fabricating a claim that was never made in order to declare a post "false" and censor it. Even if the post had wrongly attributed the quote (which it did not) what harm would have been done? The answer: No harm at all. Facebook's problem is not with the attribution, but with the quote itself.
This is not the first time. I posted a doctored image of NFL players burning a flag next to the real image, and said people should stop spreading false stories and doctored pictures. My post was also censored by Facebook's Ministry of Truth. It is against the so-called "rules" to debunk fake news, even if you are on the same side as Facebook's moderation team. Facebook is so paranoid about memes that they are going overboard with censorship.
I can hear the objection now: "Facebook is a private company. They can do what they want." Put aside the fact that Facebook's status as a private company does not make it immune to public criticism. The failure of the "private company" argument is that Facebook is being openly pressured by Democrats in Congress to censor "fake news," because the Democrats hold Facebook responsible for the defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016. It actually does raise First Amendment concerns when Facebook is censoring speech on its "private" platform because of pressure from the federal government.
The goal here is not to stop the spread of "false" information. The goal here is to silence conservative speech or to shuffle conservatives to "free speech ghettos" like Gab. And in some cases, they try to take even the alternative sites down. Both Gab and Parler were taken offline for a while when Big Tech deemed their hands-off moderation policy too "dangerous" to be allowed.
Free speech is under fire today, both from "private" platforms and the government officials pressuring them for more censorship. What Facebook should have done in 2017 was stand up for its users, and tell the Democrats in Congress that they will not comply with illegal demands for censorship or be intimidated by the threat of regulation. It is not too late to grow a backbone and re-embrace Facebook's original mission. Meanwhile, conservatives need to continue to apply pressure in the other direction. The fight for free speech will never be over, so we can never stop fighting.