Facebook just put me on the naughty step for a piece I wrote defending the future Rector of Glasgow University. (aka Milo).
I’d love to repost it here so that you can see how harmless it was, how totally not in breach of a single one of Facebook’s “Community Standards”. But because Facebook deleted it before I could save it you’re just going to have to take my word that it did not contain “direct threats”, encourage “self-injury”, promote “dangerous organizations”, enable “bullying and harassment” or involve any “attacks on public figures”. Nor did it engage in “criminal activity”, “sexual violence and exploitation” or have anything to do with “regulated goods”.
But I got landed with a 24-hour ban, all the same – together with a threat that if I carried on doing whatever I hadn’t done wrong then next time the ban might be permanent.
For some of you this won’t matter because Facebook. You think Mark Zuckerberg is a weird sociopath, that it’s a cesspit of festering left-liberalism, that social media is a waste of time. Yes I get that – but you don’t work in the media, whereas I do and for all of us in the communications industry whether we’re writers, entertainers, journalists, bloggers, vloggers or podcasters Facebook is a big deal because so much of our audience is on it. And it’s as important to those of us on the right as it is on the left. Breitbart, for example, gets a lot of its traffic via Facebook. Milo – never knowingly left-wing has a huge Facebook presence. The idea that we on the conservative side of the argument can afford to ignore a market of one billion potential readers because Facebook is run by liberals is just dumb.
If you accept – as logic and facts dictate you should – that Facebook matters, then you should be very, very worried about the direction in which it is headed. That’s because the people it’s going to hurt most are people like us: Brexiteers, Trump voters, climate sceptics, conservatarians, lovers of offensive memes involving cartoon frogs or gorillas, anti-feminists, piss-takers, anyone in fact who dares to set themselves against the politically correct values of liberal elite types like the guys who run Facebook.
What’s significant about my temporary Facebook ban is not so much that it happened but that it happened for no good reason. Sure, my piece contained some strong language: “cucks” got used a few times, as did the phrase “limp-penised”. But neither of those terms is proscribed under Facebook’s Community Standards. And though there was definitely a goodly amount of righteous rage in the piece, at no point did I name names. It was just directed generally at the NeverTrumpers, whom I held largely responsible for Milo’s recent defenestration. I felt – to sum up the argument of the piece – that Milo was yet another example of the way conservatives love to throw their own to the wolves in order to appease the liberal left. Nor, I added, was I convinced by the pathetic argument that this was OK because “Milo is not a conservative.” That English faggot, I argued, has done more for the free speech of conservative students on campus than four decades’ worth of elegant editorials in journals like the National Review…
This, I think, was an argument that needed to be made. Facebook clearly disagreed because – acting, presumably, on a vexatious complaint – they took it down without explanation.
One of the very worst things about the market domination by Facebook and Twitter is that it enables the kind of people who normally loathe free markets, property rights and enterprise to pose like they’re libertarian conservatives. “Oh, so you don’t like the rules on Facebook and Twitter? Well, they’re private businesses and they can make up what rules they like. If you don’t like them, go somewhere else…”
But you can bet that these passionate free-marketeers-of-convenience wouldn’t be half so sanguine if they were subject to the prejudice and arbitrary injustice Facebook and Twitter impose on their conservative (and other non-SJW-compliant) users.
In response, Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg, promised to make amends.
After first denying any knowledge of bias, Zuckerberg was forced to admit some former Facebook employees that curated content “might” have been biased against conservatives. He promised to retrain employees and impose new “controls and oversight” to cut bias. He also agreed to stop allowing the liberal New York Times, CNN, NBC News, Washington Post and BuzzFeed to dominate Facebook New Feed postings.
But the revelations kicked off a Senate inquiry of Zuckerberg from Republican John Thune, Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. To avoid an official investigation into News Feed continuing bias, Facebook launched an internal investigation. After determining there had been “unintentional biases” by its overwhelmingly progressive workforce, Zuckerberg took the extraordinary step of firing all News Feed curators in July.
The good intentions don’t seem to have lasted long, though.
Part of his problem may be that Facebook is only going to be as good as the people working for it. And due to the inevitable liberal selection bias, these are inevitably going to be liberal college graduates with liberal values who wouldn’t even know what a viable alternative viewpoint was if it bit them on the arse – and who therefore decide that any opinion which doesn’t accord with their own stultifying political correctness must ergo be “hate speech.”
That’s my number one theory, at any rate, as to how my Milo piece got me my ban. It broke none of the official Facebook community rules. Just the unofficial one: thou shall not express conservative opinion forcefully.
Obviously I can’t prove it because of the exceedingly untransparent way in which Facebook operates: you get banned without recourse to any higher form of justice.
But the much bigger problem is this: across the world from the US to the UK but perhaps most especially in Germany right now, the liberal elite is being uprooted by a populist revolution. The ugly, undisciplined, inappropriate, deplorable masses – that’s you and me, by the way, among others – are rising up in revolt, reclaiming our democratic rights, and the people who’ve got used to bossing us around these last few decades just don’t like it one bit.
That’s why the liberal elite are using every tool at their disposal to frustrate this popular revolt. One of the main ones is their hegemony over the media. They’ve dominated the mainstream media for years and they’d very much like to do the same to the alternative media, which is disruptive, unkempt and a serious threat to their power base.
Hence the “fake news” narrative the liberal-left’s media propagandists invented last year: to discredit the alternative viewpoints expressed everywhere from the conservative blogosphere to news sites like Breitbart.
It’s no coincidence that the politicians agitating for Facebook to come down harder on “fake news” are the ones who have most to fear from the Brexit and Trump revolutions – people like Labour’s Yvette Cooper in the UK, Angela Merkel’s government in Germany which is planning to punish Facebook with swingeing fines it fails to toe the line.
This has nothing to do with decency or fairness or balance. It’s another manifestation of the liberal elite’s determination to close down its opposition by whatever means necessary.