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Mark Zuckerberg faces employee blowback over ruling on Trump comments (reuters.com)
247 points by hhs on June 1, 2020 | hide | past | favorite | 382 comments

I think we all know he is not "facing" anything. People that collect big and stable salaries will not change company employment over this.

Virtue signalling is cheap, endangering your family's livelihood is hard.

"It's very difficult to make somebody understand something, especially if their salary depends on them not understanding it."

Facebook is, in general, an unethical company. And this has been known for a long time. If you didn't leave yet you won't leave over this either.

This comment breaks the HN guidelines. Read it closely: it's completely generic other than a shallow response to a single word in the title ("facing"). It offers nothing but the exact same indignation that has been expressed thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of times already. It is, in fact, a perfect specimen of a generic comment, the kind we don't want here because it makes discussion repetitive and ragey: https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=true&que....

Therefore, please don't post like this to HN. Repetitive indignation is the opposite of curious conversation, and we seek the latter. https://hn.algolia.com/?dateRange=all&page=0&prefix=false&qu...


Disclaimey bits:

1. No, I'm not siding with Facebook or whatever; just with the intended spirit of HN. A comment like this breaks that spirit while seeming to be on topic.

2. I don't mean to pick on you personally. It sucks to be singled out and there is zero intention of shaming here. I'm just picking on this particular comment, about something that we basically all do at times.

I guess it can be viewed that way.

As much respect as I have for the moderation team on HN, this time I will respectfully disagree -- but I will improve the website by restraining myself from commenting on such hot semi-political discussions in the future.

That would be best for everyone, I believe.


EDIT: (after your edit): Rest assured, I am not taking it personally nor will I "attack" or press the matters further. I agree my comment wasn't well-spirited and was dismissive.

It's just that sometimes I get tired of what I perceive as virtue signalling.

But I agree that it's best to keep that opinion to myself and not add negativity to the forum.

Thank you for bringing this perspective. I feel I actually needed it.

> Facebook is, in general, an unethical company. And this has been known for a long time. If you didn't leave yet you won't leave over this either.

You might be right. But you might be wrong. And the way you're framing it, it's either a) someone agrees with you, and has already left FB (meaning you were right), or b) someone has stayed at FB, therefore ethics is unimportant to them.

Your dichotomy leaves no space for the idea that you might be wrong, or that the people who work at FB might not agree with you that it is unethical.

Nuance is such a rare commodity online these days.

One telling sign of that is that few, if any, media sources that criticized Facebook's decision even bothered to publish the rationale.

Think about that. Imagine perceiving yourself as journalist and intentionally not reporting the rationale of a point of view you disagree with.

Once I heard Facebook's logic... I actually found it compelling. I think it's good we have social media companies that don't all agree with one another and act as a single entity. That would be scary.

> Once I heard Facebook's logic... I actually found it compelling. I think it's good we have social media companies that don't all agree with one another and act as a single entity. That would be scary.

I don't think any reasonable human being will argue with that.

The problem are a lot of other practices of Facebook, like the lack of privacy and all sleazy corporate lingo and lobbyist pressure they utilize to never actually have to be a privacy-first company.

And that's not even touching their experiment with free Facebook traffic in India, simply branded as "Internet" which, predictably, led many people to believe that Facebook is the internet. (And surprising no one, this was stopped only after a big wave of negative PR.)

The dichotomy is forced on purpose, and as I said in several other comments in this sub-thread here:

Don't virtue signal if you cannot take responsibility for possible consequences (like losing your job). Sure, you might actually disagree with Facebook, your employer. OK. But no point talking about it if you won't do anything.

why would someone work at FB if they think its unethical, given almost all of those people can find another job pretty easily.

- Job stability. No lay-offs even amidst the Covid-19 crisis.

- Good salary. The FAANG companies pay really well. Almost nobody else can offer you north of $200k annual salary.

- Prestige.

> If you didn't leave yet you won't leave over this either.

You have no idea why people have stayed and/or how their minds have changed over time. Everyone has their breaking point and this could very possibly be it for some people.

Also, your quote should be attributed to Upton Sinclair.

> Also, your quote should be attributed to Upton Sinclair.

“Citations are optional on informal forums such as the Hacker News” —— Mary Wollstonecraft

True, everyone has their "enough of that" point. But it seems to me that the people who work at Facebook are after the good money, the prestige and the stable job that is mostly immune to tremors (like the pandemic).

I can't generalise all of them of course. But we never had historical data of people mass-leaving big corps over such issues so I'm tempted to believe in my generalisation.

I'm not defending anyone working at Facebook and, on the whole, I think Facebook is extremely problematic. I personally decline semi-annual offers from their recruiters. I'm just saying that it's too easy for outsiders to pass judgement when they know nothing about individual situations and circumstances. To their credit, despite whatever friction they may receive from on high, Facebook does have employees who care about and are working to address contentious issues.

Also, people greatly overestimate how easy it is for others to actually find new jobs. Yes, there are lots of high paying tech jobs available (I have no idea how the Covid-19 pandemic may have changed things) but some people -- for a variety of reasons: health, family and otherwise -- have great difficulty doing this. Hiring is known to be broken and is the cause of _great_ anxiety for some number of us for these reasons. (It's so problematic for me that I don't even bother, at a great cost.)

> Also, people greatly overestimate how easy it is for others to actually find new jobs.

I don't. I am jobless for one month now and have been semi-actively looking for a job for two-three months. I never worked so hard for free in my life! I know exactly what you mean when you say it's really hard. Many people might underestimate it... but I don't.

My point was -- still is -- those people should not virtue signal if they can't put their wallet where their mouth is. Ask yourself "am I willing to leave this cosy position because I disagree with the policy of my employer?" -- and if the answer is no then IMO you should just save your disagreement for yourself.

Is there an employee version of Karen? "I am not shopping here anymore!" and yet they typically do come back to shop there. "I will not work for this company is X" and they still work there.

they stayed through:

- pro Kavanaugh

- genocide in Myanmar

- destruction of privacy

- facebook accepting it creates extremists

There's two sides to all those issues* that reasonable people can take.

* except the Myanmar thing - but that wasn't an active thing, but rather not being responsible in growth and having incorrect assumptions about state actors

Most people I know that work there still either:

1) Have little concern about the ethics. 2) Care about money. 3) Feel smart and important for working there (I'm smart, I made it).

This won't change their view on those things.

What about people that fear they won't be able to get another job? You say 'care about money' to make them sound callous but that could include people who care about being able to put food on their family table.

Those people should accept that they can't put their wallet where their mouth is -- and thus keep quiet.

It's completely okay for one to be unwilling to endanger their livelihood. I can sympathise with everyone having that sentiment.

But don't virtue signal and just move air. If you believe in the cause, prove it. If you can't prove it, get on with your day [and don't spam the internet with stuff you won't ever factually support].

> they won't be able to get another job?

this doesn't apply almost any engineer working at facebook. Everyone was hiring before corona hit.

Just because you managed to get a job at Facebook in the past doesn't necessarily mean you can get a job anywhere else now. Tech interviews are very fickle. If people studied for a Facebook interview but don't have the time to do that now due to something like caring for someone then they could be in trouble.

I am not saying its guaranteed that they will find a job but tech unemployment was at all time low and even a mediocre engineer could find a job before corona pretty easily.

If they are so unqualified to find a tech job in boom season then there were plenty of jobs outside tech too.

I don't agree that most of these engineers would never be able to find another job if they quit fb. Maybe a tiny % of protestor, sure.

Your parent poster has a point though -- tech interviews are awfully inconsistent and most people judging you do so based mostly on gut feelings.

You fill questionnaires and do elaborate solutions of rather complex homeworks... only for somebody to judge you by the grey hair in your beard or by you being caught off-guard on only one out of 20-30 questions.

They'd take on less pay with growth opportunity elsewhere. Even with more pay! "Former Facebook engineer" helps with salary negotiation.

Facebook is reality, but it's also just a game. It goes like this: how deep can we go exploiting people by using information technology. How much "person" can we extract? How far can we go controlling this person (e.g. make sure user is happy, etc.).

The second game is: How can we PR our way out of the nightmares we knowingly create month after month?

It amazes me every day how the corporation and all its employees are able to maintain the BS level required to believe in the "mission" of the company.

If you can imagine it, I never had an active account in my life and I am happy about it. And believe it or not, I still do exists have friends and family and a "social" life.

Remember when "I disagree with what you say, but will defend your right to say it" was a thing? I certainly do. How far we've fallen as a culture since then.

People misunderstand that quote as much as people misunderstand the concept of freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech means that the police can't raid your house for what you think or say or a judge cannot rule against you for what you think or say.

But freedom of speech doesn't mean that other people are forced to either listen to you or provide with their own private means (like content hosting or bandwidth) for you to express your ideas.

This line of argument is really tiresome and comes up every single time in discussions like this. It's been done over and over and over again and I'm not really interested in arguing about it.

What I am talking about is the culture of defending free speech. The cultural value of defending the right of people you dislike to express ideas that you disagree with, because the value and importance of free expression goes beyond the short-term unpleasantness of ugly opinions. This is what we are losing / have lost and it is extremely dangerous for democratic society and civil liberties. It has nothing to do with the legal definition of free speech.

This line of argument is really tiresome and comes up every single time in discussions like this. It's been done over and over and over again and I'm not really interested in arguing about it.

(Sorry, you can’t just say you’re tired of an argument and then continue with only your side of that argument.)

I’m not giving my side of the argument, because I’m not engaging with the argument. I’m talking about cultural values, not legal definitions of free speech.

Sure. But it's still one of many branches in this same exact conversation tree. ("What happened to free speech culture?" "Free speech doesn't mean you can say whatever you want without consequence, and these are private companies" "But Facebook and Twitter are really more like public squares" etc. etc. etc.)

If you accept that you'd never let some soapbox rando yell politics in your face just for the principle of the matter, the discussion will inevitably boil down to the role social media plays in society.

Where your argument fails is that nowhere in the Constitution, or quotes like that is mentioned the right to be _heard_. You have no inherent right to an audience (either on Facebook, or in a public place). In-person, I can walk away. But the virtual equivalent is "stifling"?

> It has nothing to do with the legal definition of free speech.

I am not talking about the Constitution. I’m talking about a cultural value. Not the same thing.

These people, groups, organizations are not having their ability to speak stifled. They're having their choice of location stifled. There are plenty of people willing to host views that others might find unpleasant. From Gab, to Voat, to nearlyfreespeech.net, self-hosting and the like.

Now if your argument is (as often, theirs is) that those platforms are fringe, not nearly-as-popular, I would theorize that that is because a larger majority of people have heard some of these things and have zero interest in hearing more.

But they can still say it.

And at that point, I ask, what is the cultural value of requiring people to hear things they've decided they do not wish to?

I don’t have a problem with people deciding they don’t want to hear certain speech. I have a problem with someone else making that decision for me, unbeknownst to me, and on nuanced issues like contemporary politics (not the fairly straightforward stuff that ends up on Gab.)

Even then, I’d still prefer a totally open system that lets me decide what I want to see/not see, because it avoids any potential censorship.

People and systems are deciding what you see and do not see every day. From moderators on HN to the algorithms on every Facebook and Google product. When you search on Google and get a trillion results, you are letting Google choose for you by ranking pages. I am extremely thankful for those services as I would be sad if I had to wade through a trillion results and decide what to see/not see myself. I expect these companies and people to filter out BS I do not want.

None of that prevents me from hosting my own website, or going to a public space, and saying whatever I want.

You can't say that and use the quote in the original comment. The quote references a right, which comes from laws and the Constitution, yet you mention a cultural value instead. Which are you talking about here, the right of free speech, or the cultural value of free speech?

Rights don't come from laws, we are endowed with them by our creator.

> The cultural value of defending the right of people you dislike to express ideas that you disagree with, because the value and importance of free expression goes beyond the short-term unpleasantness of ugly opinions. This is what we are losing

You are really missing the point though. Part of the balance is that one still cannot escape the consequences of their free expression. That's the backpressure that makes it work.

Email is a medium with which lacked that kind of backpressure and suffered by massive amounts of spam. Filtering out spam is preventing "free expression".

If you don't have backpressure, you won't get the free expression you imagine, because the noise will overwhelm everything else.

How do you categorize anti vaccine, flat earthers, and people who believe BillG wants to implant people with microchips?

This is the paradox of tolerance. Some ideas are worth debating, some are not. We all have limited time and energy.


Edit: the irony of getting downvoted while trying to have a discussion about being able to express ideas...

No, the paradox of tolerance is relevant when you have radical political factions inflicting violence on the population and preventing opposing opinions, not when some small group of people has crazy ideas that have little-to-no impact on society as a whole.

The paradox of tolerance states that if a society is tolerant without limit, its ability to be tolerant is eventually seized or destroyed by the intolerant.

Crazy people thinking that the Earth is flat doesn't prevent you from circumnavigating it.

Meanwhile, the person holding the most powerful office on Earth is retweeting Q memes...

> Crazy people thinking that the Earth is flat doesn't prevent you from circumnavigating it

Crazy people believing that vaccines are a Democrat/BillG/CIA plot will prevent you from achieving herd immunity, if they are numerous enough.

Crazy people who think the Earth is flat will deny your circumnavigation project government funding, if there are enough of them.

In any organisation that is not a totalitarian autocracy, crazy people hurt the organisation's goals. The more numerous and organised, the bigger the gridlock.

Tattoo them, not implant. I believe that because billG said that’s what he wants to do, unless the official website is some sort of joke I’m not getting: https://id2020.org/

So don't debate with flat earthers. Nobody is forcing you to.

Anyway, you've listed three things and one of them isn't like the others. I'll give you a hint: hate anti-vaxxers or not, there have been vaccines in the past that had extremely severe side effects. That is an absolute fact. Everything from that point on is about risk tolerances, tradeoffs and group safety vs individual freedoms, i.e. things debated for thousands of years.

Lumping people who are scared of vaccines into the same category as people who think the earth is flat is the kind of tactic that makes so many of us think ... fuck it, just let everyone say what they want. Total freedom of speech everywhere. Why, because trying to institutionally determine what's "true" is a complete waste of time. Everyone who thinks it's easy ends up causing massive collateral damage by shutting down legitimate and important debate. See how Wojcicki at YouTube has been deleting videos of epidemiologists and Nobel Prize winning scientists for "misinformation". See how she's been forcibly upranking outlets like CNN in recommendations, even though people don't want to watch it and it makes Google lose money. See how Facebook has shut down groups for people who think lockdowns are a harmful policy. See how Google is now censoring "communist bandit" globally.

This kind of childish behaviour doesn't make the tech industry look smart, it makes us look like arrogant fools.

my point was more in the line that there are times in history when people and organization have to take sides. refusing to do so means implicitly taking sides.

facebook not using its right to kick violence-mongers off their platform is an implicit way of supporting them.

Facebook doesn't have to support trump or to spread his hate speech. Facebook is choosing to do so.

I'm puzzled that you feel we are losing this, when it seems clear that with every passing day, we are moving further and further into a world where anyone can freely express anything they like. You and I and everyone around us has the ability to write whatever opinions we have, and immediately share them to tens of thousands of people. This is something that would have been unthinkable 20 or 30 years ago. Groups that were for much of history suppressed by dominant cultures are now vibrant and active. The LGBT community certainly doesn't wish for a return to the past, for instance. Whole social movements have been organized between people who, prior to recent history, would have been logistically unable to communicate with each other.

At the same time, certain people have views that are morally abhorrent. Or, heck, even just not very interesting. It's important to NOT to shoehorn some kind of homesteading right over public attention in the name of free speech. In the past, society's way of protecting itself against this was mainly that speech was expensive, and extremists frequently lacked the money to impose themselves on others' attention. This was in some ways a horrifying way to solve the problem, since it suppressed the disadvantaged, and didn't work anyway. In any case, it's gone. Speech is no longer expensive.

What remains to see how we can regain some semblance of sanity in a world where all public communication devolves into people shouting at each other. I'm sick of living in that world. I don't particularly care whether Facebook takes down Trump's comments; they've already been heard. But I do care about notions of free speech that prevent tech companies from trying to solve the pressing social challenge of how to let people regain control over their own attention spans.

The line of argument you’re objecting to comes up every time because it continues to be correct every time. Instead of saying you’re tired of it, it might be more productive to admit that you’re wrong.

In the US, it depends on whether the violence incited is "imminent" or not. In this case, I'd say that it was and the government failed to act (surprise! /s) to enforce its own laws because the president is indeed above the law while serving, as the Mueller report found. Lamenting society's loss of free speech in a situation where that free speech isn't even legally protected seems strange to me.

> seems strange

Why would it be strange to have values that go beyond what is legal?

Because we don't even have values to back the legal system. It's strange to demand companies act ethically when the legal system allows and encourages them to act unethically.

But that has always stood in media and on the metaphysical soap box. Which is why media companies haven't been able to censor politicians and its illegal for politicians to block you on social media.

Look at the AOC law suit. She tried silencing people on her private social media but because she is now in government she got sued immediately.

You are conflating "The First Amendment" with "freedom of speech".

"The First Amendment" is the law that protects us from the government stopping free speech.

"Freedom of speech" is a principle that civilized cultures adopt so that people who disagree aren't shut out of the conversation.

Are you saying that the president of the United States doesn't have the ability to speak his mind and be heard by those who want to hear what he has to say?

The same guy who's every tweet is reported in every online publication within minutes? Are you sure you understand what freedom of speech means?

> "I disagree with what you say, but will defend your right to say it"

I'm not sure somebody's "right to say [something]" is directly equivalent to being able to tweet something on a privately owned platform.

Yes it is when the effect of a single person taking offense at your speech is censorship of your speech for every other person too.

You have the right to speak. You do not have the right to either a forum (Facebook) or an audience.

I’d rather find a world where humans do have that right than stay in the ruins of this one.

You would? The world you're describing is one where every drunk ranting at a bar is entitled to have you listen. That seems like far more of a nightmare than this existing world that you describe as "ruins".

Still wrong. They aren’t the one who is entitled to an audience. I’m the one who’s entitled to be able to hear them and make my own decisions. Censorship systems make my decision for my by preventing “offensive” speech from even being seen and considered.

FireBeyond said:

>>> You do not have the right to either a forum (Facebook) or an audience.

You said:

>> I’d rather find a world where humans do have that right than stay in the ruins of this one.

"Right to an audience" is part of what was being discussed. That part I was disagreeing with you on.


> I’m the one who’s entitled to be able to hear them

I agree with that in principle. In practice, that winds up compelling someone (some company) to carry their speech. That part I have a hard time agreeing with.

... on Facebook. Or Twitter.

There are plenty of platforms that would host Trump. Or PETA. Or neo-nazi groups. Or anti-abortion groups. Or radical animal rights.

They may not have as large a reach as Facebook or Twitter. But that is likely a factor of the general public's interest in what they have to say.

So "ever being seen or considered" is fallacious.

It comes down to "I have the right to be heard by as many people as _I_ want to be heard by."

It's no different to saying that ABC/CBS are required to air your views, but choose not to, and ignoring the fact that you can go on Public Access TV or a smaller market, and still claim "I'm being censored!". It's not an accurate reflection of the state of affairs.

That appears to not exist anymore and replaced by a person's feeelings as more important than your right to speech.

I will still: defend your right to be wrong about everything you say - till the end.

Giving a platform to fascists makes them seem normal and just a quirky alternative to the mainstream. It effectively allows them to easily spread their propaganda.

In his book Mark Bray writes: "It’s important to note, however, that the vast majority of people who oppose limiting speech on political grounds are not free speech absolutists. They all have their exceptions to the rule, whether obscenity, incitement to violence, copyright infringement, press censorship during wartime, or restrictions for the incarcerated. If we rephrase the terms of the debate by taking these exceptions into account, we can see that many liberals support limiting the speech of working-class teens busted for drugs, but not limiting the speech of Nazis. Many are fine when the police quash the free speech of the undocumented by hunting them down, while they amplify the speech of the Klan by protecting them. They advocate curtailing ads for cigarettes but not ads for white supremacy."

In my opinion de-platforming fascists is indeed infringing on their right of free speech, but this infringement is justified as it protects the the safety and well-being of marginalized populations.

there is a difference between saying "I think this war (insert a war: Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc) is wrong and unjust" and your quote is absolutely true. Some people believe in the wars, some dont but ultimately its up to us to understand a statement like above can be said openly and honestly and without fear of retribution.

However, and where Facebook crosses a line, is that when you allow someone to post unabashedly false things to drive emotions. Saying "Trump is a weak leader" isn't wrong or false, just an opinion. Saying that Nancy Pelosi murdered a baby deer with her bare hands on the floor of the House and pushing it as absolutely true is where we currently are.

You don't have a right to push verifiably false information with no recourse. You have a right to say your opinion. Just like you can't yell fire in a movie theater, or bomb on an airplane.

In theory, that all makes sense. Except in reality, it doesn’t play out that way. There is no neutral arbiter on what is a fact or what precise meaning a 140-character tweet is supposed to have. Philosophers have written about this for centuries. In the current political climate I really don’t trust any side to be mature enough to present all perspectives on a situation.

As I said, our culture has become so insecure that people are begging for censorship of ideas they don’t like. It’s a dangerous road to go down.

Your concept of what’s factual has to be rooted in something.

Except that the "glorification of violence" depends on the interpretation. It can also be a warning that people will start to defend themselves with violence or that the military will intervene. If that's the case those warning are here to AVOID violence by discouraging people to engage in looting...

Facebook shouldn't make such decision based on the interpretation of some emotionally biased employees.

"When the looting starts, the shooting starts" - quote from a segregationist who did some pretty despicable things.

"We have vicious dogs" - Who is this, Mr. Burns? "Release the hounds!"

"I'm wondering if we can't have some kind of MAGA-counterprotest here. MAGA-people like the black folk. They like African Americans. Maybe they can show up to counterprotest." - seriously? This is about as close to Cartman-esque chanting for a "race war".

Are we going to analyze every tweet for its historical usages? If AOC or Bernie Sanders tweets again about "Revolution", should we censor them if they quote Che Guevara? Something tells me they won't do that.

...but more fundamentally, the question is who gets to decide? Corporations or elected officials? ...can't vote out a corporation if you make them arbiters of truth and don't like the choices they make.

> If AOC or Bernie Sanders tweets again about "Revolution"

If generic, or as a principle? No.

If they say "pick up weapons and shoot those who dissent"?

Then they're advocating or threatening, and that should be handled similarly.

Ok, so it needs to be explicit when liberals tweet, it but we can evaluate the historical context when conservatives tweet, right?

What about that time De Blasio quoted Che Guevara "Hasta la victoria siempre"? Any problem with that? It's like quoting Hitler about victory.

The point here is that people aren't going to agree on the rules - so asking to hand this judgement process over to Corporations is lunacy.

I think generic quotations, on either side, is entirely okay.

I think comparing "ever onward to victory" to "when the looting starts, the shooting starts", i.e. "I approve of and will authorize the use of lethal force for property crimes" is a little of a stretch.

Or "vicious dogs" for people protesting at the White House. These are directly relevant.

"I will use the unlimited powers of our military" - so many problems with this statement.

This is someone making direct and focused statements of threat and intimidation, who has a history of racist and violence-encouraging statements, from "punch him in the face, I'll pay your legal bills" and on.

The challenge is that finding left-leaning populations actively, pro-actively advocating (sorry, "warning") of violent action is a lot more challenging.

>In 1967, Miami police Chief Walter Headley used the phrase "when the looting starts, the shooting starts" during hearings about crime in the Florida city, invoking angry reactions from civil rights leaders, according to a news report at the time.

> Segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace also used the phrase during the 1968 campaign.

While you might like to believe that the phrase could mean anything, it certainly doesn't. And in the context of Trumps tweet, which specifically mentions the military, it certainly means that he was threatening to have the US military fire on US civilians.

Now consider that in the context of the US threatening action against China using "tough" tactics to subdue protests in Hong Kong and you'll see the tweet for what it is. The same kind of rhetoric and threat of violence against protesters that the US condemns elsewhere in the world.

I prefer to live in the word where that man’s freedom of speech in 1967 means we get to remember and appreciate the progress we fight for. Censorship helps those who already have the most power by giving them an easy way to maintain it.

Yes, because never before have those words (or a variation of them) been spoken at all ever since they were uttered in 1967.

Give me a break.

That "the president is too dumb to understand the context of his words" is not a strong defense.

The concept of "looters will be shot" has been used outside race related riots.

Are we going to debate every tweet's historical usage?

Should we start looking at AOC's or Bernie Sanders' uses of the word "revolution" in their tweets too?

It's hard to mislabel "glorification of violence" given the militar culture in the US: just look of all the military propaganda more or less hidden into mainstream media (movies, tv series etc)

I can imagine a consistent "promoting violence is bad" policy - I think we can all agree that the general standards of e.g. a corporate office wouldn't permit Trump's statement. But there's no universe where "when the looting starts the shooting starts" glorifies violence more than "riots are the voice of the unheard", and 100% of the people complaining to Zuckerberg would oppose banning that second message.

Amazing to me that so many people in these comments believe Facebook is or can be apolitical. This is a very childish stance, and Zuck is not standing up for their right to remain out of politics: they're deeply political, and Facebook is just asserting which political viewpoints they subscribe to as an organization.

Trying and failing to be apolitical is different than being intentionally political.

And I prefer platforms attempt the former.

"We will not curb violent speech if the speaker is a notable public figure" is already political. That's a political stance, not an apolitical one, and it's very naive to believe otherwise.

Besides, Facebook has a PAC! In what way is this attempting to be apolitical? Although their donations are split, since 2012 they've given 14% more to Republicans.

> if the speaker is a notable public figure

I haven't seen this to be the case. My impression is they found that his speech didn't violate their normal policy. Do you have support to the contrary?

> Facebook has a PAC ... Lol good point. Though my assumption is this is for economic reasons. So technically you're right; that's political. Though I think it's a non-trivial distinction between trying to grease the economic engine to support corporate profits and being political in the sense of pushing for other left/right/progressive/conservative values.

Not censoring the president is political?

That seems like a very black-vs-white / with-us-or-against-us mentality.

Interesting times. Many people are now demanding unelected, nearly unaccountable corporations to actively censor elected officials, and in fact consider not doing this evil - a step beyond fascism into a new brand of totalitarianism. I would have considered this absurd even 5 years ago.

The only thing missing to make this reality a full cyberpunk dystopia are corporate superhuman ais, but not for the lack of trying.

> a step beyond fascism into a new brand of totalitarianism.

Social pressure is being exerted on businesses to enact change. How does this have anything to do with fascism or totalitarianism when the government isn't even involved?

Many politicians have suggested that the government SHOULD be involved in cracking down on social media speech.

AOC (a US congresswoman) specifically suggested that legislation be written to curb free speech on Facebook.

Government is about power, not the name. Facebook has more power to shape public opinion than most dictators in history. Traditional propaganda had to appeal to the common denominator, facebook can use ml to analyze every user individually and generate (what it think is) an optimal feed to generate the intended outcome. Filtering counterproductive information is an integral part of it. It's totalitarianism because people advocating for it are true believers: they believe if you oppose them you are evil. Fascism usually relies on self-interest in the form of carrot and stick rather than fanaticism. I'm much, much more afraid of true believers.

If you disagree with the first sentence, consider a hypothetical country: everything is owned by Google. In theory, you can own land, but in practice you can't, because Google won't sell it to you. You can only rent. Everyone is communicating using devices rented from Google, software owned by Google and using servers owned by Google. Same for literally everything - food is only sold by Google, payments are only possible on Google Pay. If you break Google's ToS, you are banned from using any of its services - ie. you starve to death. Appeals are handled exactly as they are today when the issue is about a youtube channel ban or demonetization.

In this world, officially there's a government with a constitution guaranteeing multiple freedoms, along with a very efficient and fair justice system. One thing the legal system allows you to do is to enter into a contract with Google that requires you to waive all your rights. If you don't sign the contract, you can't buy food and you starve, so logically everyone alive is under the contract.

What entity is the actual government in this scenario?

Hyperbolic? Yes. Yet, every day we are getting closer to this reality, even if the extreme outcome never happens.

These businesses’ products are the way humans communicate. I don’t consider “you can say what you want, but it will be impossible for you to say it _to_ anybody” to be an acceptable compromise. Free speech that’s not absolute does not exist at all.

It seems a lot of people are advocating two things:

- Western social media companies are evil; and

- Freedom of speech is bad.

You may very well get rid of Facebook and freedom of speech, but I would like to just remind to all of you folks in the West that when you only have Chinese social media companies and no freedom of speech, there will be thousands of cases MUCH worse than George Floyd and you won't even be allowed to talk about them.

It's almost unbelievable that people are suggesting we take the power away from elected officials and hand it over to corporations.

It's like the sky isn't even blue anymore...

There is a fake Lincoln quote that, even though it's fake, aged surprisingly well in the last 140 years that it has been circulated:

> "Corporations have been enthroned.

> An era of corruption will follow and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until the wealth is aggregated in a few hands and the republic is destroyed."

this is all a big distraction to the fact that facebook is already playing the “arbiter of truth” - algorithms aren’t magic, they’re just automated biases.

If Zuckerberg truly wanted to be neutral they’d show unweighted posts... he doesn’t actually want that though, he’s just protecting profits (which is his primary responsibility as ceo anyway).

Probably why he's going to start hiring outside of tech hubs.

Come on. He’s doing that because he can pay people less. That’s what he really cares about.

Regardless of location, Facebook is hiring from demographics that typically don't support Trump. Young, STEM-educated people skew left.

If you want Trump supporters to even things out you're probably going to either: A) hire older devs from less traditional software dev backgrounds. B) Still pull from Young+STEM but filter out anyone whose social media indicates them as being left-ish.

Who wants to work for a company where they're living in constant fear of being outed as a non-leftist and losing their job?

I get the frequent recruiting emails from FB and (much less frequently) Google, but am really too afraid to pursue them.

It’s really remarkable how much downvoting one gets if one says “SV tech company cultures are strongly left leaning.” This is such a widely known thing to anyone who’s worked in that environment that I’m surprised it’s controversial. Perhaps people just don’t like having this fact stated?

The high ratio of downvotes to rebuttals is also telling: people want to anonymously disagree but not to disprove. (I have a comment further down thread to the same effect that got a similar reception.)

Not sure why you're being downvoted. I can't imagine working for either company, especially in SV. I would be walking on eggshells lest someone hear, or overhear, something 'toxic' and my career gets ruined. It'd be safer to just not talk to anybody, or limit conversations to work topics only. That's an awful work environment. My demographic would make me a target, not a colleague.

> limit conversations to work topics only. That's an awful work environment.

Ok, maybe it's because I'm older (but not a boomer), but I don't think that's an awful work environment.

I use dinner party rules on social media and at the workplace. That means I avoid talking about politics, religion, etc. It's not because I'm afraid of being outed for my views or anything, it's because I look at work as work, and not a place to socialize or broadcast my views.

I'm 100% aligned with you on this. The problem is that many people, especially younger millennials, don't follow these social rules. Aside from it being exhausting to listen to them preach their political beliefs at work, you can also be "outed" just by not agreeing with them vocally enough. I've had friends have to leave teams because of this dynamic.

It’s funny, my experience has been the exact opposite. Conservative boomer and older-gen-x employees where I work are very outspoken, loudly rehashing Fox News talking points in the cafeteria, seemingly projecting their voices as loudly as possible to try to get a rise from everyone else. I don’t know if they feel “safe” because they are nearer to retirement and have pensions (which have since been phased out and none of us younger folks have them) or what, but the younger workers keep their heads down and don’t tend to chat about politics.

I've definitely experienced the loud and completely socially-unaware older conservatives as well, but generally not at work. Is your career in danger if you disagree with these people? That danger is where it goes from an undesirable work environment to one that is genuinely bad for society.

If so, that seems like the same dynamic, just with a different hegemony. It's a horrible pattern for a workplace regardless of which view is the orthodoxy.

Interesting, in what industry do you work?

I'm an older millennial and I don't bring my "whole self" to work. Work is for work, I'm not there to share my beliefs or values with my colleagues. It's really not a terrible way to operate, and I think it's often foolish to "show your hand" at work as it can give people ammunition against you.

>dinner party rules

That won't protect you. When your employer is actively signalling and funding support for particular groups or political positions, failure to join in is taken as a political action, and you might get attacked by co-workers for being anti-group or anti-position.

I don't know what one needs to be protected from. If your coworkers are harasssing you for not being political, that's usually the point where you escalate the issue. If that doesn't get you anywhere, that's a signal to leave (and by leave, I mean by not announcing it to the world with a "Why I left X" blog post).

Maybe I'm lucky, in my 25+ years of working, I haven't had to deal with that level of unprofessional behaviour (but I've also generally avoided working with startups and "interactive" agencies for the past 10+ years).

Counter-point: the "silence is violence", and the "being silent is being complicit" are somewhat popular suppositions. You can find public posts chiding people with those words for not being politically active enough.

Generally speaking, I treat coworkers "like a customer". I try to be respectful, polite and professional. My work can speak for itself. If that's not enough, then so be it, because I don't have time for other people's bs.

FWIW, I see those chiding posts in my FB feed, and I don't put any stock in them. Most of the people in my feeds post them in lieu of being genuinely active, as though the act of posting is an act in itself. That's their right and choice, and it's my right and choice to ignore them.

FYI: At this point, he's probably in part being voted down because he's complaining about being voted down.

And the downvoter(s) prove my point.

Read between the lines: I'm saying that there are a lot of people selecting themselves out of the candidate pool for the large SV tech companies based on the perception of SV corporate culture being promulgated through the media and forums like this one, further reinforcing the group think in those organizations.

That should make you happy.

What an obnoxious strawman you're holding up. If you're not sending political manifestors on the company's listserv you're probably fine. There are right-leaning people at every company. Even facebook. Especially facebook.

That's clearly not the case. People have been harassed by coworkers at Google for something as anodyne as using the word "family":


And there are far more stories like that which didn't get into the press.

The right leaning people at tech companies certainly exist. They don't tend to spend all day insisting their coworkers are fired for having left wing views. That's why these firms seem left-leaning - it's those people who kick up all the fuss and make all the demands.

That's one of the key reasons I never apply to companies like Facebook and Google. I'm sure there's a lot of greatness to be had at those companies, but having already experienced working at a left-wing media company, I imagine the fear of being made a pariah by coworkers could only be greater at Facebook.

> but filter out anyone whose social media indicates them as being left-ish.

Hiring based on political beliefs, or in this case, presumed political beliefs, sounds like a dangerous road to go down. And I am saying this as a young, STEM-educated person who skews left.

At least in EU, discriminating based on political beliefs goes against art. 21 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Pardon my ignorance but, is that allowed in the US?

No, broadly speaking there are no national laws in the US agaisnt firing someone for their political views. It is complicated but basically in the US, at the national level there are a few protected classes (age, gender religion, race, disablity) and you can’t make the decison to fire someone based on these reasons. You can fire people for any other reason or no reason, so in practice this protection is limited and genreally favors the employer. Some US states have their own addtional labor protections.

That’s true, nationally no. But it is against the law in California where the companies of the topic are mostly located.

You are correct, but I believe my fundamental conclusion is also correct. Simply put there are a few reasons you can’t fire someone and almost infinite number of reasons you can. California has more protections than others but the balance of power still overwhelmingly stays with the employer.

I believe that is allowed in some US states, because political affiliation is not a federally protected employment class, and some, but not all, states prohibit it.

Political beliefs are not a protected class in the US.

Except in California, oddly enough.

In the US it seems it is slightly more complicated https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/can-employers-discri...

> Hiring based on political beliefs, or in this case, presumed political beliefs, sounds like a dangerous road to go down.

You don’t think this is happening already? I’m not sure what companies you’ve looked at but most big tech firms have left wing political cultures on an official level, with “culture“ departments and events promoting and sharing various culturally left-wing talking points everyone is supposed to be on board with. Try saying “I actually don’t think america is a deeply racist country in 2020, there’s a huge amount of opportunity here which is evidenced by the number of people (ostensible victims of racism from India, mexico, etc) who line up to come here. Oh and by the way I think natal women are entitled to privacy from men in their bathrooms (like 95% of Americans believe)” during a lunch interview and see how fast you get the “thanks for your time we’ll be in touch.” Or just say “I voted for the current president” if you prefer something shorter.

Alternately, talk about supporting BLM, BDS, and how terrible America is as a country—no one will bat an eye.

For the record I hold views from both of the above “columns” but I know which ones I’m allowed to share at work (the left leaning “progressive” ones) and which ones I need to keep to myself, namely, everything else.

EDIT: downvoters: please set me straight here and let me know what part of my comment is inaccurate or untrue.

Why would your hiring process factor in whether someone is a Trump supporter to even things out? Hiring someone based on political affiliation seems pretty awful.

> Young, STEM-educated people skew left.

That's a surprising conclusion... I always thought they skewed libertarian.

Kinda surprised this isn't common knowledge here, or that people think its localized to SV?

Here's a link: http://verdantlabs.com/politics_of_professions/

Software Engineers: 79 Democrats for every 21 Republicans. Similar story for engineering overall (The most "conservative" engineering profession being chemical engineering)

IT: 71 Democrats for every 29 Republicans.

You can blame it on SV but the truth is our industry's age skews young: We are 38 years old on average compared to the workforce average of 43. Source: https://www.visier.com/clarity/four-common-tech-ageism-myths...

Young voters and college-educated tend to vote more Democratic: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2016/11/08/us/politics/e...

You could argue the fact that the profession is predominantly male might mitigate some of this but the problem there is that the gender gap closes once you look at genders on a college-education basis: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/11/08/the-2018-mi...

What I'm trying to say is that if we assume political affiliation does not correlate with skill (it doesn't AFAIK), and you hire based on merit, and you hire nation-wide, your software development team will skew left. And if your hiring focuses on major urban hubs it will skew even more left.

If you want to introduce artificial "balance" you are going to have to do affirmative action for political beliefs. This is challenging, as it's trivial for any individual to lie / reinvent themselves as a desirable political hire. If I wanted a job bad enough, and I knew they preferred hiring a certain political persuasion, I absolutely would pretend to be whatever they wanted me to be.

Initially and used to. Now, SV absolutely and without question is left leaning overall. To not see it means you’ve never been anywhere near or that you personally are so far left they look center or right ;)

If those comments had come from Average Joe in Wichita, Facebook would most likely have censored them.

Are we arguing that some users are just too important to adhere to the site's terms and conditions?

This is part of the circle of life for internal Facebook turmoil:

10 Facebook does something to draw ire

20 Employee drama

30 The company leadership offers some platitudes to buy time

40 GOTO 10

5. (Optional) Establish some Oversight Council or Committee, to be disenfranchised, dissolved, or declawed at the company's earliest convenience.

If my memory of BASIC from the 80s is still accurate, Line 5 will never get executed, because of the GOTO 1 in line 4, so not even optional.

Yeah, the OP should have numbered them 10, 20, 30, and 40, so the GP could insert a needed line in between...

I edited my post. Go wild!

Man, this is triggering more memories of programming in Basic. I remember writing programs in BASIC (as a kid/teen, mind you) where I didn't plan enough for changes and had to renumber swaths of code to allow more functionality. I was so happy to learn Pascal.

Earliest convenience? It hasn't even started yet and they appointed 40 people to it. It was designed as an exercise to try and prove that people can't agree on what's unacceptable.

People really want Zuckerberg to decide whether posts of the president should be deleted or not? Is this for real?

We really need mainstream decentralized applications more than ever. Thoughts of people should not be censored. Who the hell should be the truth police? You? People that have the same beliefs as you?

This is just ridiculous. I don't like Facebook but great decision by Mark. Same as they decided to not remove political ads.

> People really want Zuckerberg to decide whether posts of the president should be deleted or not? Is this for real?

I can't speak for everyone, but I just want the company not to carve out exceptions for their rules against violent speech depending on who said it.

If you believe that Facebook doesn't have the right to remove any violent speech regardless of who says it, obviously that's another story. I think online communities have the same rights to create and enforce rules that offline communities to, because I've seen what happens when they don't.

If we want to treat everyone equally then people can not talk about using the military on such platforms. It is hard to get more clear case of glorifying violence than a person holding an army and talking about using it against people. Any speech glorifying war, talking about killing people in a positive light, or deploying people to kill other people, would be banned from those platforms.

But people want exceptions for when such violence feel good, and do not want it when it feel bad. Its similar to how some research (data however is disputed) that in warrior cultures, warriors who has killed in battle have more offspring than non-killers. There are good books on the subject of the love-hate relation humans have with violence.

Violence is fine, heaven help you if you show a female nipple on those platforms though.

...but that's exactly what Twitter did - they carved out an exception for politicians.

The problem I see is that "violent" speech is a subjective perception. I could claim that your post was "violent", and that I was harmed by it.

Sticks and stones.

Section 230 permits the platform to decide for themselves what is violent, according to https://www.theregreview.org/2019/07/15/kosseff-correcting-p...

Exactly. So Twitter says its violent and Facebook doesn't.

Yes, but I’m more interested in the next step. Both are within their right to enact their choices.

Yes, there is subjectivity. In this particular case, Trump and Zuckerberg talked on the phone and Zuckerberg expressed concerns about the content but ultimately decided to keep it up.

If you really want fair and impartial content policies that apply equally to everyone, shouldn't it be concerning that we can't all call Zuckerberg on the phone?


>Who the hell should be the truth police? You? People that have the same beliefs as you?

Except Facebook is a private platform. That people use it does not make it a public platform. That would be like arguing that Six Flags over Georgia can't remove you from their park because you started protesting in it. Yes, there are people there, but no, just because they're there and it's a popular place doesn't mean they can't remove you if they want to (so long as they're not breaking another law by doing it).

> That would be like arguing that Six Flags over Georgia can't remove you from their park because you started protesting in it

But in the context of this post, you (and the Facebook employees) are actually arguing exactly the same thing: that Six Flags should be required to ban people who, for example, wear Republican candidate T-shirts to the park.

> Six Flags should be required to ban people who, for example, wear Republican candidate T-shirts to the park

That is a strawman.

They are advocating that Six Flags should ban people who draw swastikas on the carts, even when those people are in office, or seek election.

Why use such off topic examples? Isn't it more like

> They are advocating that Six Flags should ban people who tell people around them "Hey if you try to burn or rob that snack stand, that security guard might shoot you!"

AFAIK this is more aligned with the presidents comments that everyone is in a hissy about. Would you consider that a bannable offense at Six Flags?

To add another dimension, people who draw swastikas and claim it’s not bad because “we didn’t mean it _that_ way”.

Is Twitter banning anyone who wears a Republican T-shirt? Or is Twitter marking false information as false while hiding (not deleting, hiding behind a button) a statement which looks suspiciously like a literal calls to arms to suppress a group which is upset because its members are being murdered without due process or due cause and the murders are getting away with it despite video evidence? Oh, and some people in the same gang as the killers are shooting journalists in the face and arresting other journalists live on TV.

(I have no idea what or where “Six Flags” is. I’m not American.)

Six flags is a chain of amusement parks. Roller coasters and thrill rides.

Thanks :)

>But in the context of this post, you (and the Facebook employees) are actually arguing exactly the same thing: that Six Flags should be required to ban people who, for example, wear Republican candidate T-shirts to the park.

That's not at all what I'm arguing. I'm arguing that Facebook and Six Flags are private entities, and private entities are generally allowed to ban whomever they want from their platform/property (assuming they're not breaking the law by doing so). I'm not arguing whether they _should_.

More to the point: Yes, if Six Flags over Georgia wanted to ban people who are wearing Republican Candidate T-Shirt from the park they can do so.

Facebook is not required to preserve free speech on their platform, I don't think there are many people who would argue that they are required to do so. That doesn't mean they shouldn't given how widespread Facebook is.

This is an understanding that goes a little too far into adulthood for some.

100% exactly. They aren’t under a requirement - but absolutely should. And the people that dislike Trump the most should be demanding for free speech for everyone regardless of how “wrong” they are because it’s the mechanism that protects the Democracy long term.

Instead, I see a lot of people that want to just make the bad man who said the mean things go away, and look to our SiliconValley Overlords to make that happen.

Hence the executive order to take the first step towards protecting free speech. Similar to anti-discrimination laws, "private" companies should have to respect free speech. Especially when a handful of those companies control the dialogue of the populace.

To be clear, you're saying something akin to: bakeries and florists refusing to make wedding cakes (or arrangements) for gay couples? Good.

Facebook not giving unpleasant extremities a platform on which to peddle their beliefs? Bad.

Now, if you think the religious baker should be forced to make a cake? I disagree, but I at least applaud you for the consistency of your convictions. Note: "they should go to another baker" isn't any more applicable than "they should go to another web host/platform".

If however you do believe that Facebook should "have to respect free speech" of a political variety, but the bakery should have a religious exemption, I'll ask:

Why, when freedom of association (politics), political beliefs, and religious beliefs are all held on the same pedestal in the Constitution, why are you singling out only some?

And in either case, why do you feel an Executive Order by way of Presidential tantrum is an appropriate way to manage what is certainly a Constitutional legal principle, if not worthy of an Amendment?

That's not a good analogy of my beliefs. A better analogy would be: If a supermarket that has a monopoly on cakes (and it's agreed that eating a variety of cakes is best), and the billionaire owner of the supermarket prefers vanilla cakes, the billionaire owner shouldn't be in the business of refusing to sell other cakes besides vanilla. Especially when they are accepting federal cake money, and have special federal cake protections in place to protect the billionaire owner. And when freedom of cake variety is the First Amendment of the country where said supermarket exists.

I agree they have rights as a private business, but things change when they're a defacto monopoly and they start messing with the 1st amendment at their leisure. Anti-discrimination laws fit the same mold as this topic (i.e. impact what private businesses can do), are you against them being in place? The frustrating thing from my perspective is that the SECOND something impacts a liberal, they are flimsy-floppy with their beliefs....I'm sure I'll be referring back to this conversation in a few months when the tables are turned and I hear a Karen complaining about it impacting them.

I don't think your analogy really fits the place Facebook takes in the world, sadly I must add.

In some places Facebook is an official channel of communication between people and governments and other public institutions like Universities. Their use of Facebook, or other social media platforms, in this way makes it more like a utility than a private platform.

If you really must, you could make the analogy of a billboard. Lets say Hustler puts up a billboard in the city with some of their famous content, I bet it will have to be taken down pretty quickly, regardless of the content policy the billboard company has.

>In some places Facebook is an official channel of communication between people and governments and other public institutions like Universities. Their use of Facebook, or other social media platforms, in this way makes it more like a utility than a private platform.

By that logic, a university posting a flyer on a coffee shop corkboard makes that corkboard a public forum and the coffee shop must allow anybody to post anything on it.

I rather like the comparison of social media platforms to amusement parks.

I usually compare them to pubs/night clubs:

They're places where people hang out and socialize or network.

Some have really strict bouncers whereas others will let just about anyone in as long as they're spending money and not shitting the place up too badly.

There are some that are so big and so popular that it almost doesn't matter if you prefer hanging out in another less popular one because no matter how you try, you'll never convince most of your friends to hang out at your favorite dive since everyone is at the big place.


Both are long term bad for your health but you love the small dopamine fix.

I did not say Facebook is obliged to leave a post. Yes, they are a private platform and can decide whether to remove or leave a post. And people complain that the post was left being public. I don't understand what you're arguing here..?

> That people use it does not make it a public platform.

This is literally the definition of the word public.

It's not remotely the definition of the word public. By that logic, your front yard is public property if you let your neighbors on it.

Yes, "public" is where ever the people are.

Words can have multiple definitions. That you allow some members of the public (your neighbors) onto your private property (your front yard) does not negate your right to control access to your private property, nor does it make your front yard public domain for anybody to gather on without your permission. It doesn’t make it “public”.

Yes, I think we are in agreement. I am using that specific definition of public here because I feel like it's the most representative of the soul of these homonymous legal concepts that have morphed over a few hundred years into tools of oppression. The law wouldn't exist without the people, and it's time to bring these concepts back into alignment.

In a way you can say the same about a telecom company that is private and should be able to censor phone calls. Yeah, right.

The difference is that Six Flags doesn't use visitor built roller coasters, unlike facebook and twitter who depend on user content to survive.

Or in other words, don't use lazy metaphors for lazy thinking. Facebook and Twitter are nothing like Six Flags.

so are the utilities- Yet we still found a way to regulate them (in our capitalist dystopia)

They did that to themselves by creating monopolies, and leveraging their power over basic services to make money and fleece customers. Regulation exists for a reason

Google using their massive resource tried to make a better platform than Facebook. They failed spectacularly.

Are you suggesting Facebook/Instagram/WhatsApp doesn’t have a monopoly on what each is?

They do not provide a necessary public service; it's not drinking water or heat, you would be perfectly fine existing without Facebook. It's their private platform, they should do what's morally right by them, which is apparently doing nothing.

Ok, so using that exact line of thinking.

Netflix isn’t a necessary public good or service - why can’t Comcast throttle it? Is it because I don’t get to say what you do or don’t use Netflix for? Then why does someone else get to determine what political speech I do or don’t get to see? They’re both over the Internet aren’t they?

It’s far more nuanced than “they’re a private company”. Even at base level let’s say FINE, you should still want them to follow the spirit of free speech especially if not required to do so.

I respectfully disagree. When a handful of "private" companies control the dialogue of the populace, it becomes a defacto public service. Similar to anti-discrimination laws, "private" companies should have to respect the underlying principles of free speech.

Other countries that are not capitalist dystopias also regulate their utilities. So perhaps the problem lies elsewhere?

Google suspending an account = HN outrage

Facebook / Twitter deleting posts = they are private companies, it's fine.

Umm first of all social media is nothing like a park (public or private), and government has a lot of ammunition to fire at them if they decide to play politics.

When companies start getting hijacked by hipster activists, entering political arena and stepping on policy maker toes they are going to get smacked down - and rightfully so - the last thing we need is some anonymous nobody from twitter deciding what to fact check and how to frame it on what's presented as a public communication channel for the elected official.

If twitter was heavily right wing and they did this to Obama the same people cheering them on now would be up in arms - this is just partisan BS.

> has a lot of ammunition to fire at them if they decide to play politics.

In a very literal sense. https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-minneapolis-police-protest...

Not really - journalist are established in that area, they are used to such risks/treatment and they do have protection in principle because their work is seen as valuable (in a democracy). I don't have any problem with people having opinions and writing opinion peaces.

Social networks stamping information is more like your ISP throttling traffic from Netflix because it doesn't like the fact that you aren't using their streaming service - it's funny that the "it's a private service" crowd are probably the same people that want net neutrality laws against that. In my view they should both just be dumb pipes with filters to prevent illegal use, the rest just puts too much power in the wrong place because of the monopolistic nature of social networks.

Maybe the real issue is, the President shouldn't be tweeting official pronouncements. Maybe use some responsible apparatus for disseminating considered decisions?

Fact is, I give no credence to tweeted nonsense anyway. Might as well say "Who should be allowed to censor pictures the President takes at the midway during the Cedar Country Fair?!"

Lets not pretend there's some God-given right to spout hate over a public recreational text channel. That's its some fundamental democratic right, or that the President ought to be participating, at all.

Why not? The president intends to address to the people he serves and facebook, among others, is an effective means of doing so.

Among thousands of other reasons, it's an exclusionary and (potentially) ephemeral mechanism.

I don’t like Trump, but I can’t exactly fault Trump for twitter because he found a way to side step a media that dislikes him (justified or not).

Try to put yourself in his shoes, you would absolutely use an effective tool that the people you didn’t trust to deliver your message had no control over.

And the lady doth protest too much when it comes to the media talking about Trump Tweets. They love it, free programming for an hour or two.

> People really want Zuckerberg to decide whether posts of the president should be deleted or not?

This is a strange inversion. I would guess that most of the disgruntled FB employees want a transparent review system with rules that are applied consistently, with exactly zero intervention from Mark Zuckerberg.

But not everyone is the same, in this particular case: the president of a sovereign nation is held to different rules. As the president it's in the interest of the people he serves (and as an American company FB operates at the pleasure of those same people) that he is allowed to communicate with them through whatever means are available. Sure you want no violent messages to spread but what if he declared war on another country, should he be banned from FB if he ever posted about it? It's about as violent as it can get.

What's not transparent? Facebook has a policy and they determined that the remarks did "not violate company policy against incitements to violence".

People are happy Twitter exercises its right to moderate speech because it moderates it the way they like.

People are unhappy that Facebook moderates speech because it’s moderating it they way they don’t like.

So, they only like free speech if they agree with it, otherwise they don’t.

You know there is a difference between deleting posts and blocking reposts/comments/etc. or adding a link to more information about how a post is wrong.

Also, and most important, the world isn't black and white. So just because you find facebooks handling much worse then twitter doesn't mean they are happy with twitters handling, it might just not have jet overstepped their bottom line as much as facebook did.

And given that what belongs to free speech and what not isn't always clear it's really important to not see it as black and white. Not just are there different definitions of free speech (by common sense vs. by law vs. by common sense in a different country etc.). But even in this areas boundaries are not clear. The most purest form of free speech would be non constraints at all in any circumstances. But you will find it hard to find anyone supporting it (after they think about what it means). People just don't think is generally ok to use free speech to e.g. drive someone into comiting suicide.

So the real question is at which point is it free speech and at which is it "evil"/"bad"/"a crime" to a degree that it's unacceptable. And given that likely there is a lot of thinks in the gray area how to handle them the best is also not an easy question. But this is exactly where the difference between Facebook and Twitter matter, in the handling of thinks which are "bad" but not necessary so bad that most would agree it's unacceptable. Like it's a not a crime but very close to one.

I think that’s an accurate and sad take. That people are being so childish and tribal they can’t see past their own noses.

“It’s a private company” when they want to use it and “Internet is a right” when they don’t.

Uh, no ones post got deleted, twitter just took the microphone away (limited sharing & comments, but anyone can go read the post).

Otherwise, thoughts don’t occur in a vacuum, they’re informed by the information that people receive. If you’re trying to be an information platform and a thought sharing platform, then there’s a huge vector for misinformation. I can understand a difference of opinion and nuance but acting like there’s no problem here is just head in the sand at this point.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

A family member honestly proposed to me the other day that “hate-speech” should be banned. As well intentioned as that person is: I asked her, who do you want to decide which speech is hateful? The president you don’t like? The Supreme Court that he’s appointed many members to?

Neutral laws that protect everyone’s rights are that way for a reason. So when YOU are in the minority, you don’t find yourself in a compromised position.

All decentralization would do is force people even harder into their bubbles. Facebook et al do a pretty good job of that already, but at least with everyone on one platform there's a chance to see another view. Decentralized platforms just means cliques will develop and dissenting views will be banned. Just look at Reddit and its subreddit system for where this ends up.

What you're failing to understand here, is that whilst for you, you might not have issue with seeing the truth behind something. Others, specifically older generations, cannot. these are people who grew up with the media they could trust to give balanced viewpoints. That's just not something that we can rely on anymore.

So when someone in a position of trust spreads unsubstantiated claims, there needs to be some form of fact checking. Normally this comes from the media/news/etc... but since we're increasingly unable to trust that source, and also that we're using that source less in our daily lives. Who does it fall on?

I'll put it in another way most of us here can understand.

Imagine this is the late 90s, or the early 00's... Twitter is just another forum. You have one member of that forum posting with the intent of upsetting the user base... what should the forum mods do?

Moderators on HN decide all the time whether a post should be deleted or not. Why is this a problem if it's on Facebook or Twitter? I don't see why anybody even the president deserves a private platform. If he doesn't want to be censored he can make an official press release like every other president has in the history of the presidency.

This is the most ignorant one can be. Facebook always have been deciding on behalf of every one of its users.

The only difference this time is the decision these employees want do not line well with FBs long term goals to reap off of its users.

I don't think adding a small banner is censorship.

Or have congress roll back Section 230. If online publishers were held to the same libel standards as print publishers this problem would be instantly fixed.


230 covers a lot of situations. For example, it has been cited by a judge who ruled in favor a library, which was the defendant[0]. This protected the library's choice to let patrons use the internet on library computers. It's summarized in the Wikipedia article you shared.

If 230 disappears, I don't see how any websites would allow user comments. I really don't see how we'd have any websites where user content is the service's value (Pinterest, recipe sharing sites, LinkedIn, Reddit).

[0] http://www.techlawjournal.com/courts/kathleenr/20010306op.as...

Edited: removed repeated sentence

> I really don't see how we'd have any websites where user content is the service's value (Pinterest, recipe sharing sites, LinkedIn, Reddit).

There are a number of ways to go about moderation. The change would be minimal, or none, for sites that already apply a good faith strict moderation effort and horrid for sites that supply the minimal moderation required by criminal law.

So who do you hold responsible for the publishing of your comment? YC? @dang? Yourself?

If it's one of the first two, your comment will be queued and reviewed by one of the many editors that YC will pay for to review each individual comment to ensure it does not incur liability on their part for publication.


Yes, user submissions would be reviewed to ensure compliance with a publishers terms and conditions. But then so much of the content on HN is always frequently reviewed for policy compliance.

It might not be instantly fixed, but everyone would know where things belonged.

Facebook is doing the same thing with some political ads (the ones that criticize Trump, of course) - https://www.cnbc.com/2020/05/08/lincoln-project-called-faceb...

Policing/deleting is not the same as pointing out factual information in the event of falsehood. Facts are not biased or have any political affiliation.

I agree with you. We should not police free speech. That doesn't mean we should allow falsehood to sail rampant in broadcast media. Any broadcast media should be held accountable if its spreading blatant lies to disinform and uproar conspiracy theories.

Free speech shouldn't mean irresponsible speech.

No, it looks like they are only interested in taking down comments they disagree with.

I bet they haven’t commented on leaving up comments up by people they agree with which could be inflammatory.

So people are happy Twitter can manipulate messages, but unhappy Facebook is not manipulating messages because it goes counter to their PoV!

they already censor what you say by using an algorithm to weight posts

> People really want Zuckerberg to decide whether posts of the president should be deleted or not?

I think you have it backwards. He has explicitly decided to not delete a post, rather than leaving this decision to a more majoritarian and just mechanism.

"Facebook employees critical of CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s decision not to remove an inflammatory comment from U.S. President Donald Trump took their dissent public over the weekend on Twitter,"

see? he decided. That should not be his job.

> That should not be his job.

Absolutely it should be his job. He is responsible for the direction of Facebook, and is probably reading the winds of change that have been blown up by Twitter. With the possibility of Section 230 repeal in the offing, Facebook needs to decide now whether they will be a publisher or platform.

Nobody deleted Trump's posts. Twitter a) attached a "this may be misleading" link to one of them with the link leading to more reputable information on the subject, and b) hid the inflammatory one behind a warning about inciting violence, with a clear and present "View" button available. To my mind this is exactly the right approach: the original content remains fully available for those who would cry censorship, yet its destructive impact is hopefully dampened.

Seems like plenty of people read/heard about it anyway.

Exactly. The people who really want to can, but the issue with social media is how it amplifies messages that people only casually encounter. Measures like these don't block those who are intent, but they hamper that mass, wildfire-like impact.

I think a part of the issue is that other users than Trump would probably have had their posts removed when reported by others. Trump didn't.

> Thoughts of people should not be censored.

Also, I was formulating a thought to counter this, but then I realised that this it true in any case I could think of. Censorship gives people an excuse to ignore the situation, in this case: a dense violent idiot is President of the US, rather than really do something. Trump gets away with basically anything constantly and that is the real issue, not whether his comments get deleted at some point in time. If you censor all the idiotic and offensive things he says, then how can people realise things need to change?

You should not get offended by what he says. You should get offended by the fact that a person who says these kinds of things is President of your country.

Yeah, calls for murdering people by the president don't present any new thing for us to consider potentially new processes might apply, he's definitely not a person with enormous power, and he's definitely acting in good faith.

Thoughts of people are censored by themselves constantly because of the potential harm they cause, if you cant muzzle yourself and you call for violence expect others to do it for you.

People have died when Trump has tweeted, and he has shown no remorse or guilt, in fact he takes no responsibility.

So, who the heck would want him on their platform? Why would you spend your server time and money on a child-brained fascist?

Calls to violence? Yes they should. Freedom isn't limitless, it demands responsibility. The same way you can't yell fire in a movie theater. Inciting people to violence and threatening that same free speech of others, particularly from someone with the biggest soap box in the world, is unacceptable in our country. I thought we decided that years ago

The issue is not whether people are allowed to incite violence with their words. It's where FB or other online forums are responsible.

To use your example, is it the movie theater's responsibility to ensure that you don't yell fire in their theater?

If they're handing you the microphone, absolutely!!

Trump isn't a normal person, his words have power. Providing him with a platform to spew whatever he wants is completely irresponsible

But if you yell fire, shouldn’t the move theatre throw you out of there?

I don't see how Trump's tweet was a call for violence. it wasn't a call to kill people, it could be interpreted as a way to warn citizens.

“I’m not threatening you, I’m just informing you that I’ll kill you if you don’t do what I want”

Of injury or death, yes. What do you think normally happens when you shoot people?

> The same way you can't yell fire in a movie theater.

This is a myth. The standard that we use for the 1st Amendment in regards to speech is imminent lawless action. Look it up. Trump's tweet doesn't come anywhere near that standard.

It’s not a myth that it was a case, the issue that most people don’t known is it was overturned later.

What wasn't decided years ago was that a private corporation was prosecutor, judge and jury in being responsible for calling out and punishing these "criminal" (not really) bits of speech.

The thing the censorship fans can't seem to understand is the power they are granting.

Today the power is for their progressive friends, tomorrow it could be for regressive tyrants. Likely those are the very same people.

Just look to history. How many leftist uprising have worked out well?

I wish I could disagree.

As I have remarked previously, freedom of speech is important for precisely the same reason that it is dangerous — it can change things.

Like most non-Americans, I’m not even close to the USA legal position on free speech. I absolutely do not accept the right to make one group hate another by words alone. What I don’t know is how to achieve that simultaneously with preventing the kind of censorship that leads to nations walking blindfolded into dictatorships.

So we can censor Democrats that post hate about Republicans?

It fits your guidelines.

Of course!

If the post is “the only good X is a dead X”, I don’t care who is saying it, they shouldn’t be allowed to.

Well, you said hate.

You can say hateful things about a group without wishing them dead.

I said "make one group hate another", not "say hateful things".

The post that started this entire discussion wasn’t the POTUS merely saying games should be boycotted if people were not fired for taking the knee — neither FB nor Twitter stopped him from doing that — it was him using the words “the shooting starts”.

Reminder: it is incumbent on every single person who doesn't approve of what facebook does to stop using its platform - no fb, instagram, WhatsApp, or messenger.

every time they record an ad impression because of you or send a message that reinforces their network effect, you enable these people. It's not worth it.

Facebook is too big, has too much reach, and is largely unaccountable to elected representatives - especially outside the United States. Whether Facebook decides to censor an elected official is largely a red herring. They need to be broken up[1] so that individual countries have a chance at holding them to account if they do something shitty and users have more choice of what social network to use if they disagree with Facebook's policies.

[1] At a minimum, the WhatsApp and Instagram acquisitions need to be rolled back.

As if anything is going to change. He has the voting rights to do whatever.

There are few FB employees that did speak out on Twitter with not agreeing but to what end. They will still continue to work in support of all this.

I don't think it's such a big problem though, if you dislike hate and violence just mute these people from your feeds/life. The bigger issue as I see it is FB working directly in support of Trump by supporting his ads and dropping Biden's ads.

The point of social networks then is the same as it is now, to host content that does not break the terms of service of the site. Anything further than that is extra. Just leave it as things were and people are fine.

We've been saying that what's on the internet is not bond since before the inception of Facebook and Twitter, so there's no reason to try and change it now. When did people forget that there was no use in doing this?

The point of social networks is to let humans communicate.

Twitter just declared war with the federal government. The employee are effectively asking Zuckerberg to divebomb his own company. Zuckerberg has been in those congressional hearings.

He knows exactly why he doesn't want to get in this splashzone. Cause what twitter did is so far over so many lines I can see them being the same after the FCC starts making rules for them like ISPs in 60 days.

I have a theory on this.

I think the next leg of the downturn will start once people actually figure out that the economy has been completed hollowed out all the money printing. At that point, of all the tech giants, Facebook is the most likely to collapse because their only moat is to collect even more of your data or acquire companies who do the same. Given that their "moonshot" cryptocurrency project was (thankfully) basically dead on arrival, they now don't have nearly as many tentacles into our lives as the other tech giants.

Now, imagine being the only social network where the President of the USA is allowed to write whatever he wants. That's a sure-shot bailout package isn't it?

How this is not Zuckerberg being unable to control his revolutionary employees eager to implement political opposition censorship because they can?

>Giving a platform to incite violence and spread disinformation is unacceptable, regardless who you are or if it’s newsworthy,

As someone who grew up in Christchurch this Tweet strikes a nerve. Not a single thing has changed at Facebook that would hinder an armed lunatic from freely live streaming a killing spree to thousands on the platform.

This is not anything new.

I have deleted my FB profil so, I am living without it since 2013 and I really don't feel I am missing social life.

I think we are well passed the point of the Federal govt doing anything. The future is feudalism. Guys like zuck and Bezos are the barons of the old. In the future there will be too types of people, employees of these corps and everyone else (the peasants). All that is missing is for Amazon to acquire a PMC.

I was thinking since a couple of months on the idea of building a simulator that simulate a day live without as social platform like FB. A kind of: simulate people interactions where FB is shut down for, lets say for one day.

Not sure why Facebook invested in Oculus. They already have one of the world's largest "virtual reality" platform.

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