Receiving a lifetime ban for discussing his own areas of academic expertise on propaganda, disinformation, and political marketing could only be down to either “very thick people” or an algorithm with no nuance ruling the roost at Facebook, a UK professor has said.
Professor Nicholas O’Shaughnessy, an Emeritus and Visiting Professor at two London University colleges and a Cambridge Quondam Fellow received a sudden and complete ban on his long-standing account with Facebook for — he believes — discussing his published and widely cited academic work on the site.
The veteran academic received an email from Facebook on June 26th informing him: “Your account has been permanently disabled for not following the Facebook Community Standards. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to reactivate it for any reason. This will be our last message regarding your account.”
The tech giant did not provide any explanation of what the breach actually was.
Professor O’Shaughnessy told Breitbart London that he subsequently wrote to Facebook directly, providing academic credentials and how his latest book will even touch on “the apparent ubiquity and irrationality of Facebook’s censorship activities”, challenging the social media giant to reconsider its decision. He received no reply.
Speaking to Breitbart, Professor O’Shaughnessy reflected on the irony of the situation where a prominent researcher of information control and propaganda found himself so arbitrarily silenced, and reflected on the possibility that discussions on Facebook arising from his recent works may have been a driving factor.
Zuckerberg Challenged by British MPs over Facebook Censorship of ‘Pork Faggots’ English Delicacy https://t.co/tAdUH0bnFR
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 18, 2021
Books and journal articles on individuals and regimes who have used political marketing to sell ideas have taken Professor O’Shaughnessy from writing about U.S. Presidential Campaigns, the war on terrorism, terrorists themselves, Communism, and Nazi Germany. And it is that which he believes saw him kicked from the platform.
The professor remarked that he used Adolf Hitler’s own words to condemn the Nazi leader in his writings, yet, he argued that Facebook, as a platform, lacked the intelligence and nuance to make this distinction. O’Shaughnessy said:
…to actually explain the mechanisms of an evil regime, is not to endorse that regime.
It is a very basic distinction, and only very thick people — or an algorithm — wouldn’t get it… Facebook doesn’t get irony, and it has made itself a laughing stock for cancelling people for making ironic comments.
…I am a career academic, I always have been. I taught 11 years at the University of Cambridge… it is incredible, actually, it is absolutely incredible that I should be a victim of the very thing I write about. Facebook is even worse than the medieval catholic church in terms of censorship, it has become Orwellian. It is an empire, a cyber-empire policed by vicious robots, and we are all its victims. The question though, I think, is of social damage rather than individual pique.
O’Shaughnessy was especially scorning in his remarks on Facebook’s highly censorious attitude towards discussions on Coronavirus, remarking that the Silicon Valley giant had done “huge” damage to public discourse by totally shutting down discussion on the idea of a Wuhan lab leak. This, he said was just one of many hypotheses on the origin of coronavirus, but a potentially plausible one nevertheless and worthy of discussion.
“It is quite unbelievable that they chose to dictate the terms of public debate by doing that… it is totalitarianism where all you can really do is post pictures of fluffy kittens and use it as a telephone directory, as anything beyond that can get you cancelled, which as I have found is frightfully inconvenient”, O’Shaughnessy said.
It is clear Professor O’Shaughnessy does not put all these “damaging” decisions by Facebook down to malice, but rather down to a lack of intelligence. Besides his clear belief that the company is, at a day to day level, run by “very thick people” or an unnuanced algorithm, the academic also reacted with amusement bordering on sheer disbelief that Facebook recruited former UK Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg as Vice‑President for Global Affairs and Communications after he was unceremoniously booted out of British politics by voters.
“The greatest vegetable in British political history, Nick Clegg… it’s almost extraordinary that someone so inept, who did so much damage, should be recruited as their chief sentinel and watchman. It is quite beyond satire”, Professor O’Shaughnessy said.
Breitbart has contacted Facebook for comment and clarification on their cancellation of Professor O’Shaughnessy but at the time of publication, they had failed to respond.
Who Is Nick Clegg? Left-wing, Anti-Brexit Former UK Deputy PM Hired as Facebook’s Global Comms Chief https://t.co/5hmzM3yJR9
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 20, 2018