In the days following the election many were looking for reasons why now President Trump won in what they considered a complete surprise. Reports were compiled which showed that fake stories received massive amounts of traffic, the stories were given the term “fake news” and people began to wonder if false information had led to Conservatives voting for Trump based on information that was false. The term “fake news” has since become a term Liberals use to describe Conservative websites and Conservatives use as an insult of the mainstream media.
A media firestorm about “fake news” resulted in Facebook instituting new policies to monitor posts to ensure that “fake” stories no longer showed up in people’s news feeds. The concern became who is going to decide what is fake, is hyperpartisan news that excludes unfavorable facts fake news, or is there a definitive way to measure what is “fake” and what is true. A legitimate concern is that even if someone is well intentioned but has their own political leanings they will view opinions and information which is true but contrary to their world view as “fake”. There has been huge concern that Facebook would have Liberals deciding what on Conservative Facebook is true or false – a much more healthy solution would be to have both Conservative and Liberal workers come together to decide what is definitively fake as oppose to giving any one group of “fact checkers” the power to censor other organizations.
Facebook partnered with organizations which were viewed as middle of the road by Liberals, but which Conservatives have deemed to be Liberal. Those concerns will now be amplified after a report published today by The Free Beacon reported on a private event where the group Media Matters claimed they were in talks with Facebook to partner with them to monitor the social network for fake information. Whether you are Conservative or Liberal it’s not in anyone’s interest to have Media Matters become one of the Facebook fact checking partners. Media Matters is definitively a left leaning organization with ties to billionaire Liberal donor George Soros.
Via FreeBeacon: Media Matters told current and prospective donors at a retreat in Florida over the weekend that it has been in discussions with Facebook leadership about their policies on inaccurate and partisan news stories on the website that many liberals blame for political losses last year.
A briefing book obtained by Free Beacon contained the following: “We’ve been engaging with Facebook leadership behind the scenes to share our expertise and offer input on developing meaningful solutions” later adding “Media Matters will serve as their partner,”
George Soros announced that he has given $1 million to Media Matters “to hold Fox News accountable for the false and misleading information they so often broadcast.” Fox commentators frequently describe Media Matters, a frequent Fox critic, of being funded by Soros, but Media Matters has long denied that connection.
The term “fake news” was meant to be strictly used to describe fringe actors who published patently false information. This donation as reported by Politico, an institution in high regard, was made under the auspices of censoring one of the largest and most popular outlets on the Facebook platform. It is entirely likely that if Media Matters is given even slight access to the fake news “censorship” process that the fox will have been let into the hen house. As a publisher I tell you now, I will self-censor for fear of intentional or unintentional censorship by censors at Media Matters.
While no one wants false information to be read and perceived as true, having the organizations which determine which news is false be determined by a heavily left leaning organization isn’t productive for a healthy political discourse.
Notwithstanding, Facebook is a private company and isn’t obligated to allow publishers to say anything they’d like. Facebook has put forth “Community Standards” which govern what content is allowed. The “Community Standards” policies allows Facebook employees to make determinations that posts which appear on Facebook may violate those terms, they can and do subsequently delete posts and block pages from publishing depending upon the severity of the infraction.
Among the “Community Standards” rules is a “hate speech” violation. Hate speech is undesirable, for obvious reasons Facebook doesn’t want racism or bigotry to be propagated on its network.
Simultaneously, marking a story as “fake” is highly controversial – what is “fake” to one person may be considered speculation, or entirely true to another person. For this reason Facebook employees charged with enforcing Community Standards are more likely to mark a story as “hate speech” instead of “fake news”.
This writer has personally observed stories which were factual in nature marked as “hate speech” Community Standards violations subsequent to the “fake news” controversy.
For example, in Britain 52% of Muslims polled think that homosexuality should be illegal. This has been separately reported on by CNN and The Guardian. This shouldn’t be confused with homosexuality being immoral, rather, they thought it should be illegal. Subject to criminal punishment. These facts have been dubbed by some Conservatives as “hate facts”. Mentioning facts which are unfavorable to groups considered marginalized is viewed as “hate speech” by those who wish to stifle public debate.
I write this to inform you of the dangers of the terms “fake news” and “hate speech”. They are benign terms which have been weaponized by those who wish to censor your thoughts. If you consume your news on Facebook, filling your newsfeed with stories from publishers you personally find preferable, then what you have created on Facebook is a digital newspaper. Your digital newspaper, your medium through which you become informed about the world, is filled with publishers such as myself who have elected not to report certain stories to you for fear of penalty by Facebook.
If factual information put forth by Conservatives is today considered “hate speech” and subject to the witch hunt of “fake news” what if an increasing amount of information becomes “hate facts”? While you may be a Liberal and glad to see Conservatives censored today, know that it is only a matter of time in a world where censorship is celebrated until a cause that you care about may be subject to the tyranny of thought policing.
What if it were “hate speech” to talk about climate change, gun control, abortion, any number of “facts” can become “hateful”.
If you care about any issue which is controversial, know that one day soon your opinions may be deemed “hate speech”, I implore you to stand against censorship on Facebook. While you don’t need to agree with your opponent, you should celebrate his right to share opinions that you find objectionable.
If Facebook allows but a single person to become part of the “fake news”/”hate speech” task force who even accidentally marks the occasional post incorrectly it will quickly result in publishers refusing to publish certain types of information. Know that I already have elected to stop publishing information about terrorism after multiple reprimands by Facebook.
If Media Matters becomes a Facebook partner, there are entire categories of information which I will no longer publish.
Cyrus Massoumi, MrConservative Publisher – A man you likely disagree with on a great number of issues, but who proudly stands steadfast against the censors for our mutual benefit.
P.S. In case you are a Liberal wondering how this could effect you, organizations such as Salon have written articles normalizing pedophilia. They don’t mean to legalize it, but have written articles such as this which mean to have people accept pedophilia as a natural sexual orientation instead of a perverted crime. They maintain that so long as it is not acted upon it is benign and should be accepted. In a world 20 years from now, you may find that your objection to pedophilia being a natural sexual orientation that shouldn’t be criticized may become hate speech.