journalist Glenn Greenwald has outlined the alarming
implications of the state censorship promoted by social
networking giant Facebook when it deletes accounts of
politicians and activists whose content the US and Israeli
governments don't happen to approve of.
Intercept, Greenwald pointed to the "censorship rampage"
Facebook is currently engaged in against Palestinian social
media activists following recent threats by Israel
to fine or even block the social media resource in the
country if it failed to comply with its demands.
this month, Israel's Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked boasted that
Facebook had approved 95% of the 158 requests
to remove content that Tel Aviv categorized as
"incitement." According to Greenwald, given that the vast
majority of Palestinians use Facebook as a news
source, the social media giant's censorship effectively gives
the Israeli government "virtually unfettered control over a
key communications forum of Palestinians."
the journalist added, Palestinians have virtually no opportunity
to pressure the Israelis back, with Israeli incitement
for violence against Palestinians and Arabs
in general remaining largely unhindered and undeterred
by the social media giant.
the company appears to have bent to the whims
of another government, in another part of the
world, according to Greenwald, referring to the case
of the US government efforts against Russian
Earlier this week, Facebookdisabledthe
Facebook and Instagram accounts of Chechen leader Ramzan
Kadyrov, ostensibly because the official was subjected to US
sanctions under the Magnitsky Act.
although Greenwald made clear that he very little sympathy
for Kadyrov, "none of that dilutes how disturbing and
dangerous…Facebook's rationale [is] for its deletion
of his accounts," the journalist wrote.
this means is obvious: that the US Government – meaning,
at the moment, the Trump administration – has the
unilateral and unchecked power to force the removal
of anyone it wants from Facebook and Instagram
by simply including them on a sanctions list. Does
anyone think this is a good outcome? Does anyone trust the Trump
administration, or any other government to compel social
media platforms to delete and block anyone it wants
to be silenced?" Greenwald asked.
to the journalist, the trouble with this form
of censorship is that it gives some governments (i.e. the
US and Israel) powers which other states and actors don't have,
particularly in cases where American or Israeli politicians
or journalists use their social media accounts to call
for violence against or otherwise attack their
countries' enemies, whether it be Iran or a public figure
like WikiLeaks whistleblower Julian Assange.
is always true of censorship, there is one, and only one,
principle driving all of this: power," Greenwald warned.
"Facebook will submit to and obey the censorship demands
of governments and officials who actually wield power
over it, while ignoring those who do not."
In this context, the journalist noted that while calls
for censorship may have noble intentions – to protect
marginalized groups against hate speech, in reality,
"they are far more often used against marginalized groups:
to censor them rather than protect them."
Greenwald stressed, those who believe that the tech giants are
out to protect marginalized groups through censorship
are victims of "a sad pipe dream. Just as governments will
do, these companies will use their censorship power
to serve, not to undermine, the world's most powerful