an ordinary account gets banned on Facebook, it’s possible that no human
was ever involved in the decision. Not so for Alex Jones and Infowars.
According to the New
York Times, the order to ban the radio host came from the very
sources from inside Facebook, The
New York Times reported on
the process that led to Jones’ suspension.
situation was volatile enough that Mr. Zuckerberg got personally
engaged, according to two people involved in Facebook’s handling of
the accounts. He discussed Infowars at length with other executives,
and mused privately about whether Mr. Jones — who once called Mr.
Zuckerberg a “genetic-engineered psychopath” in a video — was
purposefully trying to get kicked off the platform to gain attention,
Zuckerberg, an engineer by training and temperament, has always
preferred narrow process decisions to broad, subjective judgments. His
evaluation of Infowars took the form of a series of technical policy
questions. They included whether the mass-reporting of Infowars posts
constituted coordinated “brigading,” a tactic common in online
harassment campaigns. Executives also debated whether Mr. Jones should
receive a “strike” for each post containing hate speech (which would
lead to removing his pages as well as the individual posts) or a
single, collective strike (which would remove the posts, but leave his
article goes on to highlight that Zuckerberg took his decision to
Apple, which was the first major tech platform to enact mass censorship
against Infowars. Following the lead of Tim Cook’s company, who earlier
this year publicly
trash-talked both Facebook and Zuckerberg personally, would
be a humiliation for Zuckerberg.
Sunday, Apple — which has often tried to
stake out moral high ground on contentious debates — removed Infowars
podcasts from iTunes. After seeing the news, Mr. Zuckerberg sent a
note to his team confirming his own decision: the strikes against
Infowars and Mr. Jones would count individually, and the pages would
come down. The announcement arrived
at 3 a.m. Pacific time.
rest of the Times’ article
is a flurry of contradictions. It simultaneously calls fears of
censorship “overblown” while acknowledging that users of the platforms
must now “tip-toe around” controversial topics to avoid being banned. At
the same time, the piece grudgingly admits that “both fans and critics
of Infowars can probably agree that a system in which one executive can
decide to shut off a news organization’s access to a large portion of
its audience is hardly ideal.”
Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News.
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