Bokhari: Link-banning Is Facebook’s Terrifying New Censorship Tool
The banning of multiple political commentators from Facebook and Instagram, including conservatives Paul Joseph Watson and Laura Loomer, is an outrage against the ideals of an open Internet on its own. But beyond the bans on individuals, Facebook has deployed an even more terrifying tool of censorship — link-banning.
The mainstream media were, of course, tipped off about the bans in advance, and the Atlantic’s report contains the following eye-opening detail. Not only has Alex Jones’ personal account now been banned from Facebook, in addition to PrisonPlanet editor-in-chief and YouTube star Paul Joseph Watson, but all links to Infowars sites are now banned across the platform. Share Infowars too often, and you’ll be banned too.
Via The Atlantic:
Infowars is subject to the strictest ban. Facebook and Instagram will remove any content containing Infowars videos, radio segments, or articles (unless the post is explicitly condemning the content), and Facebook will also remove any groups set up to share Infowars content and events promoting any of the banned extremist figures, according to a company spokesperson. (Twitter, YouTube, and Apple have also banned Jones and Infowars.)
This takes censorship on social media to altogether new levels. If you post Infowars content on Facebook or Facebook-owned Instagram, your post will be removed. If you post it repeatedly, you will be banned.
Note the wording, too — you’ll be banned unless you’re condemning Infowars. Facebook is now brazenly using its power to reward certain political positions and punish others.
This isn’t censorship of an individual or a group over a violation of terms of service. It’s the wholesale ban of an independent media site, which for all the criticism levied against it, has had a major impact on the politics of the United States.
And Facebook has made no pretense, as it has in other cases where the pages of news sites have been banned, that the ban occurred because of alleged “inauthentic behavior,” by which it means the use of multiple pages or automated accounts to promote a site’s content.
That Facebook is dispensing with its previous excuses shows that the social network has become emboldened to regulate the flow of news on its platform, knowing that no consequences are headed its way from Republicans on Capitol Hill or in the White House.
Through algorithm changes and the prioritization of so-called “authoritative sources,” Facebook has spent the last two years positioning itself to control the news you see on your feed. Now it’s taken control of the news you share with your friends too. Post a link to a disapproved website? It’ll be deleted. Post it again? You’ll likely be banned.
This is a formula not just for banning websites, commentators, and political figures, but for banning all their supporters as well.
And because their bans nearly exclusively target the right, potentially thousands of Republicans and Trump supporters won’t be able to use Facebook to encourage their friends to vote on election day 2020 — a massive advantage for the Democrats on one of the internet’s most politically influential platforms.
President Donald Trump may have cooled on sources like Infowars (unlike his campaign days, when he appeared on Alex Jones’ show). But this isn’t just an attack on particular individuals or sources. Whatever your criticisms of Infowars — and there are many — this is an attack on the independent media as a whole. It’s an unprecedented tilting of the scales in favor of Democrat-approved media, and it will have an enormous impact on the 2020 election.
That’s the point of course. Since Trump won in 2016, Silicon Valley has been animated by a single mission — ensure it never happens again.
Beyond the leaks showing that Facebook is deliberately deboosting conservative figures (when it isn’t outright banning them), that YouTube and Google are pushing conservative content out of their top search results, just look at the video-recorded weeping of Google executives on stage after Trump won. They hate him, they hate his supporters, and they will do everything they can to suppress them before election day. The only question is, what’s Trump going to do about it?