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Facebook doubles down on COVID-19 censorship

Under mounting pressure to counter misinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic, Facebook is increasingly dictating what its users should see and think.

Facebook already downgrades any posts it doesn’t like the look of regarding the virus, but it’s apparently concerned that some of its users might still interact with the wrong content. It’s not Facebook users’ fault, you see, they’re just hapless plebs with not critical faculties of their own. Thankfully Facebook is on the case.

The social media giant’s VP of Integrity (an Orwellian job title if there ever was one), Guy Rosen, recently provided An Update on Our Work to Keep People Informed and Limit Misinformation About COVID-19. “We’re going to start showing messages in News Feed to people who have liked, reacted or commented on harmful misinformation about COVID-19 that we have since removed,” said Rosen.

“These messages will connect people to COVID-19 myths debunked by the WHO including ones we’ve removed from our platform for leading to imminent physical harm. We want to connect people who may have interacted with harmful misinformation about the virus with the truth from authoritative sources in case they see or hear these claims again off of Facebook.”

As ever with censorship initiatives, it all comes down to who decides what it the truth, what is harmful, and so on. Facebook seems determined to position the World Heath Organisation as the ultimate authority on such matters, despite mounting accusations of its bias in favour of China, which contributed to the recent decision by US President Trump to halt its funding.

One of the single biggest reasons Facebook has decided to double down on censorship may have been a report by online activist organization Avaaz, criticising Facebook for not censoring more. Sadly many journalists are also jumping on the censorship bandwagon, apparently unaware of how utterly self-defeating such a desire is.

The above tweet does, presumably inadvertently, serve one very useful purpose. If Facebook is being so proactive about censorship of COVID-19 talk, why isn’t it applying that level of rigour to other topics organizations like Avaaz disapprove of? Surely the censorship should never stop until bad speech is entirely eradicated from the internet and, ideally, people’s minds.

As we have said many times, the genie is out of the bottle when it comes to free speech on the internet. People will always find somewhere to say what they want and attempts to stop them often do more harm (which we’re supposed to be against, right?) than good. Conversely, if Facebook is serious about telling its users what to think, even its latest increase in censorship doesn’t go nearly far enough.


11 comments

  1. Avatar Alan Lindsay 17/04/2020 @ 5:15 pm

    Never reading THIS source again. Maybe stick to telecoms and leave the politics out of it? Also censorship is refusing to publish things. They are encouraging people to read more things. Almost the exact opposite of censorship. Not publishing this comment – THAT would be censorship.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 17/04/2020 @ 5:17 pm

      kthxbye

      • Avatar AnonyIT 25/04/2020 @ 6:18 am

        Childish twat

        • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 27/04/2020 @ 9:08 am

          I’ll try to be as mature as you from now on.

  2. Avatar H. G. 17/04/2020 @ 8:23 pm

    I, for one, see your point. Reading more is not sending people to a single source. Granted Facebook undoubtedly views itself as a global corp. serving many patrons in many nations and, thus, might claim that as justification for pushing the W.H.O. site. However, they seem more than capable to add recommendations or special banners. Why not have that (usual) add-on below questionable posts, if they must. When did anyone start believing Facebook posts (even media reposts) are serious research? Even so, why not have a drop down of multiple resources; respective national health services? Rutgers, CDC, NIH, John Hopkins?–especially if more is better. The censorship argument and its defenders are using flawed reasoning.

  3. Avatar Steve 22/04/2020 @ 1:25 am

    This a war on our FREE-SPEECH, you know what our Grandparents fought and DIED for!

    Something has to be done, many of us DON’T live in Communist China!

  4. Avatar AB 29/04/2020 @ 6:17 pm

    I agree with your article. Blocking any data is censorship. I will never understand why we will give up our most important freedoms, FREEDOM OF SPEECH and people allow it. We have to take the good speech with the bad speech. That’s the beauty of Freedom of Speech. We all will never agree what is good or bad speech unless you live in a totalitarian country like China and they decide for us.

    The problem with these Big Tech companies is they are all private businesses and when we sign up for free stuff, they can tell us how they want us to read or see information from their lenses or do what they want with the data we post. Just leave it all alone. Let the people decide unless they feel we’re all too stupid and they need to save us from ourselves.

    We need to stop using their sites and find other sites. These big tech companies will correct itself with competition. It would be amazing if we had a company that was funded by people who didn’t want censorship in anyway and just wanted a way to communicate like a Facebook, Google, Tweeter but most of all didn’t want to make money on it. Would we be willing to pay for that! Until then, I don’t see censorship changing and any of the big tech companies, I see it getting worse.

    • Scott Bicheno Scott Bicheno 30/04/2020 @ 9:16 am

      Spot on.

  5. Avatar Gabriel Smith 08/05/2020 @ 3:57 am

    wow! I am very surprised anyone would have a problem with what you wrote!?? I am very disturbed by the removal of every covid conspiracy video that friends send me and i cant watch because i didnt do it fast enough and its been removed…. i have not noticed this with any other subject and I watch some crazy stuff… I have for years…. No this is new and does not feel “American” as last I knew we all highly valued free speech and our liberty to question whatever…. I mean watch Tucker or Hannity or that drunk judge lady ( all on FOX ) and tell me they don’t share opinions that are not always true… nobody is shutting them down… I mean the President was broadcast saying the sound of windmills cause cancer among other things like calling a woman horse face or how he liked to grab women in a special place and that’s ok!?? Removing these questionable videos only makes it seem like there’s more to it or that it must contain some truth that the powers that be don’t want us to know, and if not then that seems more dangerous than just allowing our own minds to decide. I have found most people are highly critical of that type of stuff in the first place, myself included. Conspiracy theories are ultimately exausting and somewhat counter productive to what we all need: Love and acceptance, Empathy and compassion, and possibly the ability to learn from our mistakes. keeping an open mind seems to me to be rather healthy, saying ” I don’t know ” in my experience causes a lot less harm and less negative energy than being certain. Honestly if we are to trust in science then lets remember that scientists will tell you theories and most admit that mostly in general we really dont know whats going on here or how…. C.S. Lewis wrote a book called ” Mere Christianity” and regardless of your inclination towards religion and the like I highly recommend everyone give his words and thoughts some consideration…. Before its deleted

  6. Avatar OPEYEMI AKINWUMI 15/05/2020 @ 4:43 pm

    So once again you saying we shouldn’t have opinions or people should be slaves to one source of news regardless if they telling truth or not. Mind of a tyrant!

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