Facebook’s Censorship is a Problem

When Facebook announced that it was banning Holocaust denial on October 12, many people celebrated. The dismissive language and attitudes related to millions of slaughtered Jews during World War II is viewed by many as not only offensive but the foundation for new hate crimes today. As such, the removal of such content and the platform’s limitation on sharing such articles was welcome news for many well-meaning people.

But censorship is a cruel hack that silences opinions and stories that stray from today’s new strictly-enforced orthodoxies.

This blog has been writing stories consistently for six years covering anti-Semitism, Zionism and American politics. The opinions have taken sharp aim at the liberal press’s criticisms of Israel during that time and was never shy in highlighting the deep anti-Semitism found in the foundational documents of Palestinian society, including the Hamas charter.

The articles have principally been shared on Facebook. Consequently, the platform’s decisions on which articles should be censored due to content – or author – directly impacts the blog’s viewership.

And since the end of September, the readership has suddenly plummeted.

Historically, popular First One Through articles were read by thousands and typical articles were read by several hundred. It was rare to ever have an article be consumed by fewer than 80 people. But over the past three weeks, not a single article has surpassed that total.

The September 25 article on “NY Times Tries Hard to Paint Obama/Biden as Pacifists and Trump as Mercenary” had only 101 views, a very poor showing. Remarkably, that is the highest total since that date. A true story relayed in “Vote Harvesting” got only 76 views even though it is a critical story being discussed today. The numbers have only gotten worse.

Friends found the story on vote harvesting impossible to believe and asked that I take it down since it was fanning distrust in the upcoming elections. It is a sentiment shared by the censors at Facebook. It has seemingly marked the FirstOneThrough blog as dangerous for society and is curtailing its viewership.

The notion that the good guys always win or that truth will always prevail are myths. Emboldening powerful platforms to censor stories it deems unworthy or incompatible with its worldview is toxic to a healthy democratic society.

First they came for my articles but I did not speak up because they did not censor mine…

Related First One Through articles:

Opinions on Facebook

The Press Are Not Guardians of the Galaxy

The Noose and the Nipple

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through Israel Analysis

The Noose and the Nipple

I am confused about society’s and social media’s decisions on censorship. In particular, why do forums like Facebook and YouTube permit showing brutal murders while they block nudity?

On Facebook today, I had a video pop up of a mob killing a woman in Afghanistan because she supposedly burned a Quran. Over the past weeks, YouTube has shown videos of the Islamic State beheading people and setting others on fire. Boko Haram is shown executing people and throwing them off bridges.

Yet a nipple is considered nasty.

According to Facebook: ““We restrict the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content – particularly because of their cultural background or age.” Excuse me? At what age is viewing a beheading OK?

Facebook continues on its community standards page: “We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring.” Oh, Thank goodness Facebook- I guess breastfeeding is somehow more natural than an unaccompanied breast. And I’m sure youngsters will be less traumatized seeing a breast with post-mastectomy scarring than pre-mastectomy.

Our laws prohibit a woman in Utah from showing her tatas, but permit enormous billboards with guns and violence for all to see.

What censorship calculation shows a gay man hanging in a noose in Tehran, but won’t show a woman’s nipple in Times Square?