MY "SKIRMISH" WITH FACEBOOK OVER PIZZAGATE
MARK ZUCKERBERG SAYS FACEBOOK REMOVES OFFENSIVE CONTENT EVERY DAY
Sure, I know how daunting it must be for Facebook's 8,000 person hate patrol to monitor, flag and remove racist, bigoted, and fake posts with nearly one-third of the planet's living human beings logging onto Facebook each month. Sure, I know that the tensions between Free Speech and Hate Speech are a particularly thorny issue around the world and with Facebook, the largest social media platform on the planet, it puts Zuckerberg's baby at the very forefront of this dilemma whether he wants it or not.
But how is Facebook actually doing in policing the content that users post? Well, from my experience, not all that well. In fact, really shitty.
You will recall the Pizzagate controversy that erupted into Breaking News Headlines last year just after Wikileaks released that 30,000+ dump of Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Within days the meme exploded on the internet that the Comet Ping Pong restaurant here in my hometown of Washington, D.C. was ground zero for a child sex ring headed up by none other than John Podesta (then Hillary Clinton's Campaign Manager) and none other than Hilary Clinton herself. The child sex ring, according to right wing "news reports" and Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones was being run out of the Comet Pizza joint's basement. (This, by the way, was the first clue as to the "legitimacy" of the story.)
Naturally, liberal cynic that I am, I immediately dismissed this bullshit as just one more right wing piece of crapola with about the same legitimacy as Hulk Hogan's bragging about his "gigantic" penis size and sexual prowess on cable "news" outlets.
But as a Washingtonian, I was - am - quite familiar with Comet having passed by the establishment every day for 6 or 7 years while transporting my daughter to her toney private school (Sidwell Friends). The down-home restaurant has been a fixture in D.C.'s Tenley neighborhood for as long as I can remember replete with it's quirky Art Deco neon sign with all those odd symbols. (The symbols also became more proof of the secret child sex ring headed up by Podesta and Clinton.) Me? I put as much credence into the Pizzagate meme as I did in the meme that Hillary Clinton had murdered Vince Foster: NONE! (As an aside, note that in late 2015, Steve Bannon - now chief Presidential advisor - led Breitbart to update this 20 year old stale murder claim to: "Hillary didn't murder Foster directly, but she arranged for it." And isn't it comforting to know that now this slimeball is a top presidential advisor?)
As the Pizzagate "controversy" scandal continued, it came to my attention that there was a Facebook Pizzagate page. At the time, the page was ablaze with headlines like "FBI To Bring Indictments Against Podesta and Clinton With Days" according, as the "news" went, to an FBI agent with direct knowledge of the wide ranging, national "investigation" into a vast network of child molesters. Naturally, I posted some comments about how batshit crazy all the folks posting this bullshit were and received your typical right winger conspiracy theorist replies that I won't reprint here.
I checked maybe once or twice a week to gather the latest Pizzagate "developments" and did my part in alerting the posters to their insanity. To no, avail, of course. It did occur the me though, as time went on, that the Pizzagate Facebook page was just so far out of the ballpark as anything that could reasonably be called "information" much less "news" as the posts kept getting more bizzare, more inflammatory and more whacko. I thought to myself, this is the kind of content that should be banned from Facebook since it is so clearly false, fake and libelous that an alert to Facebook's content police would surely result in Zuckerberg and company deleting the page.
I tried maybe three times in various ways over the space of a couple weeks. What I got in reply? "Crickets."
But then a real development in the Pizzagate Child Sex Ring scandal: one Edgar Welch from Salisbury, North Carolina, armed himself with an AR-15 assault rifle, drove up the D.C. and fired a couple of shots inside the restaurant terrorizing a couple of employees but, in the end, injuring no one. (Welch has since been charged, convicted and sentenced to four years in prison for his acting as a one-man militia force correcting all the evils of liberals like Podesta and Clinton.) North Carolinian Welch, enraged that Posesta and Clinton were running a child sex ring out of the Comet Pizza joint, (the "basement" as it was reported with underground tunnels to adjacent businesses even though Comet has no basement) decided to take the law into his own hands and "correct" the situation. Of course, there never was any "situation," the only "situation" being some fuck-ass crazy right wing conspiracy theory with an enabling Facebook page.
Well, I thought to myself, surely now Facebook's content police will surely respond to requests to delete the Pizzagate page since Welch proved that despite all the factual evidence to the contrary, fake, lying, totally bogus Facebook pages can, indeed, lead to potentially deadly consequences. (Dylann Roof was similarly influenced by online right wing hate sites.)
But no. More "crickets." The Pizzagate bullshit page is still alive and well although there haven't been all that many new posts. Here it is: https://www.facebook.com/PizzaGate-1905037476390714/ In fact, there are more such fake Pizagate pages still extant although the one I've linked was the first and most active.
Here's what Facebook says about the problem in their new mission statement:
Our mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Every day, people come to Facebook to share their stories, see the world through the eyes of others and connect with friends and causes. The conversations that happen on Facebook reflect the diversity of a community of more than two billion people.
"We want people to feel safe when using Facebook. For that reason, we've developed a set of Community Standards, outlined below. These policies will help you understand what type of sharing is allowed on Facebook, and what type of content may be reported to us and removed. Sometimes we will allow content if newsworthy, significant or important to the public interest – even if it might otherwise violate our standards. Because of the diversity of our global community, please keep in mind that something that may be disagreeable or disturbing to you may not violate our Community Standards."
But here are a few other views:
“Facebook is regulating more human speech than any government does now or ever has,” said Susan Benesch, director of the Dangerous Speech Project, a nonprofit group that researches the intersection of harmful online content and free speech. “They are like a de facto body of law, yet that law is a secret.”
"In January, a coalition of more than 70 civil rights groups wrote a letter urging Facebook to fix its “racially-biased” content moderation system. The groups asked Facebook to enable an appeals process, offer explanations for why posts are taken down, and publish data on the types of posts that get taken down and restored. Facebook has not done these things."
There's a lengthy article about Facebook's "policing" efforts here:
FACEBOOK & ERASING HATE SPEECH
Here's the bottom line for me: If Facebook can't even respond to complaints about a page that has no basis in reality yet portends to be "the shocking truth" and this fake page causes someone to react and endanger the lives of real people out here in the real world, I just don't see how Facebook and Zuckerberg can maintain that "Because of the diversity of our global community, please keep in mind that something that may be disagreeable or disturbing to you may not violate our Community Standards."
So then the "disagreeable or disturbing" content of a totally fake, bogus, libelous scandal sheet that endangered the lives of real people here in Washington, D.C. does NOT violate Facebook's Community Standards? I am compelled to ask, then, what model of "Community Standards" is Facebook using? Don Corleones? Tony Soprano's? Jeffery Dahmer's? Trump's?
Today's screen shot of Facebook's "Pizzagate" page: