Facebook says Farrakhan's anti-Semitic posts don't violate hate speech rules

What is "hate speech"?  The Constitution, quite rightly, is silent on the issue, preferring that individuals make up their own minds and prohibiting government from defining it.

But with freedom of expression under historic assault, there are many on the left who want to do an end run around the Constitution and use the "hate speech" excuse to shut down what are clearly alternative viewpoints.

Alex Jones has been banned from several social media sites because of his views on controversial issues.  That he's a paranoid bigot is beside the point.  The question is, does he have an unquestioned right to express those views?

There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents someone from expressing offensive, even hateful views.  But sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can, and do, arbitrarily ban people from expressing themselves, citing "hate speech" as a reason to shut them down.

These sites have a perfect right to do what they do.  But when they allow an anti-Semitic racist like Louis Farrakhan to continue to spout his hate on their sites, shouldn't the hypocrisy and double standard employed by social media sites be called out?

Daily Caller:

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's official Facebook page is rife with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and other hateful speech, which have not been censored by Facebook content monitors, a Daily Caller News Foundation review of the page reveals.

Videos posted to Farrakhan's Facebook page show the Nation of Islam leader claiming that Jews are secretly controlling government agencies to suppress black Americans and blaming Jews for "weaponizing" marijuana with "chemicals" to "feminize" black men.

Neither of those videos violate[s] Facebook's rules prohibiting hate speech, a Facebook spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a phone interview Tuesday.

Another video that showed Farrakhan warning against interracial marriage – which he blames on "the enemy" in Hollywood – to keep the black race "from being any further mongrelized," was originally ruled not to violate hate speech rules, according to the Facebook spokeswoman.

After this article was published, the spokeswoman called back and said that a closer review by the company's content monitors determined Farrakhan's use of the word "mongrelized" did violate Facebook's rules, and that the video would be deleted.

Well, thank the Lord for small favors.  How about the rest of it?

"This enemy, he's so angry with Farrakhan that now if you like me, you have to either hide it, especially if you want advancement in the white man's world.  Now if you go to work tomorrow and Jews are your boss, don't tell em where you been," Farrakhan said to laughs from the audience.

Farrakhan claims in another video that the U.S. government and Jews are working together to "weaponize" marijuana "with chemicals that perform lobotomies." 

The guy makes Jones look like a sober realist.

Facebook does have a detailed definition of "hate speech":

[A] direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics – race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.  We also provide some protections for immigration status.  We define attack as violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation.

Words are not "violent" – actions are violent.  As for "dehumanizing," does that mean that the late comic Don Rickles would have been banned for calling someone a "hockey puck"?

This is a very nice definition, but it has one problem: it is subjectively applied.  This is exactly the sort of thing that the First Amendment was supposed to protect against, but that corporations like Facebook routinely employ to ban alternative viewpoints.

Neither Jones nor Farrakhan has an absolute right to spout his nonsense on any public platform privately owned and operated.  But Farrakhan cannot be silenced – he can speak to his flock about Jews controlling the world as much as he wants.  And Jones has his radio show – no one can flip the switch and force him into silence.

But given the importance of social media in reaching a vastly larger audience, aren't people owed an evenhanded application of hate speech rules so that the political ideology of the poster isn't as important as the hate he is promoting?

What is "hate speech"?  The Constitution, quite rightly, is silent on the issue, preferring that individuals make up their own minds and prohibiting government from defining it.

But with freedom of expression under historic assault, there are many on the left who want to do an end run around the Constitution and use the "hate speech" excuse to shut down what are clearly alternative viewpoints.

Alex Jones has been banned from several social media sites because of his views on controversial issues.  That he's a paranoid bigot is beside the point.  The question is, does he have an unquestioned right to express those views?

There is nothing in the Constitution that prevents someone from expressing offensive, even hateful views.  But sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube can, and do, arbitrarily ban people from expressing themselves, citing "hate speech" as a reason to shut them down.

These sites have a perfect right to do what they do.  But when they allow an anti-Semitic racist like Louis Farrakhan to continue to spout his hate on their sites, shouldn't the hypocrisy and double standard employed by social media sites be called out?

Daily Caller:

Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan's official Facebook page is rife with anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and other hateful speech, which have not been censored by Facebook content monitors, a Daily Caller News Foundation review of the page reveals.

Videos posted to Farrakhan's Facebook page show the Nation of Islam leader claiming that Jews are secretly controlling government agencies to suppress black Americans and blaming Jews for "weaponizing" marijuana with "chemicals" to "feminize" black men.

Neither of those videos violate[s] Facebook's rules prohibiting hate speech, a Facebook spokeswoman told The Daily Caller News Foundation in a phone interview Tuesday.

Another video that showed Farrakhan warning against interracial marriage – which he blames on "the enemy" in Hollywood – to keep the black race "from being any further mongrelized," was originally ruled not to violate hate speech rules, according to the Facebook spokeswoman.

After this article was published, the spokeswoman called back and said that a closer review by the company's content monitors determined Farrakhan's use of the word "mongrelized" did violate Facebook's rules, and that the video would be deleted.

Well, thank the Lord for small favors.  How about the rest of it?

"This enemy, he's so angry with Farrakhan that now if you like me, you have to either hide it, especially if you want advancement in the white man's world.  Now if you go to work tomorrow and Jews are your boss, don't tell em where you been," Farrakhan said to laughs from the audience.

Farrakhan claims in another video that the U.S. government and Jews are working together to "weaponize" marijuana "with chemicals that perform lobotomies." 

The guy makes Jones look like a sober realist.

Facebook does have a detailed definition of "hate speech":

[A] direct attack on people based on what we call protected characteristics – race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, caste, sex, gender, gender identity, and serious disease or disability.  We also provide some protections for immigration status.  We define attack as violent or dehumanizing speech, statements of inferiority, or calls for exclusion or segregation.

Words are not "violent" – actions are violent.  As for "dehumanizing," does that mean that the late comic Don Rickles would have been banned for calling someone a "hockey puck"?

This is a very nice definition, but it has one problem: it is subjectively applied.  This is exactly the sort of thing that the First Amendment was supposed to protect against, but that corporations like Facebook routinely employ to ban alternative viewpoints.

Neither Jones nor Farrakhan has an absolute right to spout his nonsense on any public platform privately owned and operated.  But Farrakhan cannot be silenced – he can speak to his flock about Jews controlling the world as much as he wants.  And Jones has his radio show – no one can flip the switch and force him into silence.

But given the importance of social media in reaching a vastly larger audience, aren't people owed an evenhanded application of hate speech rules so that the political ideology of the poster isn't as important as the hate he is promoting?