There's been some controversy over Facebook's attitude towards 'fake news' lately. They have stated their mission to purge fake news from the Facebook community, in combat to the wave of 'alternative facts' that have arisen on the Internet lately. Left and right, it seems the political sphere is manipulating events to suit their current narrative.
That sounds great, right? Who doesn't want to have more facts and less bullshit? We've all seen the ridiculousness of Trump's claims about his inauguration crowd size, or click-bait websites purporting that Hillary Clinton has AIDS or something similarly ridiculous.
So with this great culling of fabricated nonsense, Facebook declares itself judge, jury and executioner of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
Many are confronting Facebook with the hypocrisy of tackling fake news while simultaneously allowing Alex Jones' InfoWars to thrive seemingly untouched.
For those of you who don't know Alex Jones, some of his more scientifically notable theories include:
- The government supplies compromised juice boxes to turn children gay, in order to reduce the population
- The rich are composed of interdimensional shape shifting child molesters
- Bill Gates is a eugenecist trying to cull the white population
- Hillary Clinton is running a child-sex ring out of a DC based pizzaria
- And probably the most insidious one, Sandy Hook was faked by the government with parent and child actors (he's being sued for this one)
These peer-reviewed theories are just the ones I've been bothered to look at, he spews this absurd foolishness on a daily basis.
So it may seem obvious to others that this is hogwash, but with nearly 1 million fans on Facebook, clearly InfoWars is appealing to someone.
My main issue with people assigning Facebook the responsibility of deciding what is the truth, is Facebook is a company made of people. People are really bad at figuring out what the truth is (hence Alex Jones and his 1 million fans).
It is almost impossible for humans to leave their biases and experiences at the door. If you give someone the power to decide what the truth is, they're going to slowly manipulate that truth to suit their own twisted view of the world. The only exception to this rule is science, which is based on hard facts and the scientific method. Even then, science can often be interpreted to mean different things at the best of times, and downright manipulated at the worst of times (e.g. Dr Oz).
So why then in a complicated world of politics, business, economics, and culture, spheres that can be debated and interpreted all the way down to the meta level, would we give the power of defining truth to a single corporation that has ALREADY proven itself incredibly untrustworthy?
It's not about whether Alex Jones is a crazy nut-job, it's not about whether he's a woke warrior fighting the deep state, it's about the freedom to articulate yourself through free speech. It's about the freedom to think freely, and believe what you want to believe.
Sometimes Alex has the most insane, crazy, outlandish conspiracy theories you'll ever see in your life. Other times, he actually hits the nail on the head, as you can see from when he discovered the World Trade Organisation was manipulating peaceful protests with violence to become riots.
If you start censoring those who don't believe in your particular view of the world, you start a descent into hell you can't come back from. If we won't allow people to view and like and share conspiracy theories, why the hell would we allow people to believe in religion? What about a scientific hypothesis? What about a friendly debate between two people who have different viewpoints? What about FOX News? What about CNN? What about MSNBC? What about Al Jazeera? All news organizations that have distinctly manipulated facts to suit their own biases. Why shouldn't we ban them from Facebook and get our news and facts from Overlord Mark Zuckerberg?
The solution is not to start banning or censoring people, it's to trust that people are going to decide what the truth is for themselves. Do what you can to write and speak the truth, calmly oppose lies and try to discuss things. If you have a friendly debate with someone you disagree with, if you make the conscious decision that people in the world interpret things differently than you (and maybe better than you), you can learn more in a single conversation than you would in years of digital echo chambers.
Facebook is a private company and can do as they please, but I would urge them to not cave to people who don't value free speech. It's better for the company, and for the world, if they get behind it. We can all learn something from one another, censoring is never the answer.
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