Facebook is still championing blasphemy laws, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s “obfuscatese” regarding the subject is only making things worse, contends a lawyer and political analyst.
Judith Bergman, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, writes in a commentary recent events “illustrate how Facebook – which has previously championed blasphemy laws – continues its ‘Shariah censorship’ regarding content it apparently deems contrary to its ‘Community Standards.'”
She says Zuckerberg “now appears to be more intent on censorship than ever.”
“In a recent memo, written in mind-numbing, bureaucratic obfuscatese, he described his plan to discourage ‘borderline content,’ a concept appearing to be so meaningless as to encompass anything that Zuckerberg and Facebook might ever want to censor.”
She cites Facebook and Twitter’s removal of activist Laura Loomer from their platforms. The action came after Zahra Billoo of the Council on American Islamic Relations in San Francisco complained.
“What Facebook fails to disclose is that CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in the largest terror-financing case in U.S. history. CAIR has also been designated a terror organization by the United Arab Emirates,” Bergman writes.
Islamist Watch’s Sam Westrop confirmed the Silicon Valley Community Foundation handed over more than $330,000 to two radical Muslim groups, including CAIR, after Zuckerberg gave upward of $1.5 billion to the SVCF.
“Silicon Valley, in other words, appears to be in the habit of financially supporting Islamists,” she writes.
Then there was Facebook’s removal of ads promoting a “Britain First” petition concerning a U.K. mosque.
Further, she says, “the news website Voice of Europe reported that it had been repeatedly censored and suspended for posting articles that contained content reflecting the critical stance of Central and Eastern European politicians against migration.”
She points out that German Catholic historian and author Michael Hesemann “had his comments on the historic role of Islam in Europe deleted because they supposedly did not correspond to Facebook ‘community standards.'”
“He had cited the threat of violence that comes with Islam wherever it appears.”
And FrontPage Magazine editor Jamie Glazov was banned from Facebook for 30 days for posting screenshots of a Muslim’s threats to him. Facebook also banned him for 30 days for writing an article on the 17th anniversary of 9/11 on how to best prevent future 9/11s, she wrote.
And Facebook closed down Australian imam Mohammad Tawhidi’s Facebook page “after he made a post mocking the terrorist group Hamas, and speaking in sarcastic terms about ‘peaceful Palestinian protests.”
Facebook banned an entire European branch of an anti-migration youth movement and censored a post that criticized Islam’s condemnation of homosexuals.
“These represent just an extremely small selection of publicized incidents affecting a number of high public profile Facebook users; less-known social media users are censored and banned all the time,” she writes.
Facebook also has pledged loyalty to the European Commission’s “Code of Conduct,” which calls for removing “illegal hate speech.” Facebook defines hate speech as attacks on “race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, gender identity, or serious disability or disease.”
But Bergman points out that Facebook uses that concept “creatively.”
It removes, for example, “content that glorifies violence or celebrates the suffering or humiliation of others,” she writes. But it allowed Ahmad Qadan’s postings from Sweden seeking donations to ISIS for years.
Just months ago, she notes, media in Canada reported Toronto terrorist leader Zakaria Amara had been posting on a Facebook page from inside a prison where he was serving life for planning truck bombings.
“One of the biggest issues social networks face is that, when left unchecked, people will engage disproportionately with more sensationalist and provocative content. … At scale it can undermine the quality of public discourse and lead to polarization. In our case, it can also degrade the quality of our services.
“Our research suggests that no matter where we draw the lines for what is allowed, as a piece of content gets close to that line, people will engage with it more on average.
“This is a basic incentive problem that we can address by penalizing borderline content so it gets less distribution and engagement. By making the distribution curve look like the graph below where distribution declines as content gets more sensational, people are disincentivized from creating provocative content that is as close to the line as possible.
“Interestingly, our research has found that this natural pattern of borderline content getting more engagement applies not only to news but to almost every category of content. For example, photos close to the line of nudity, like with revealing clothing or sexually suggestive positions, got more engagement on average before we changed the distribution curve to discourage this. The same goes for posts that don’t come within our definition of hate speech but are still offensive.
“This pattern may apply to the groups people join and pages they follow as well. This is especially important to address because while social networks in general expose people to more diverse views, and while groups in general encourage inclusion and acceptance, divisive groups and pages can still fuel polarization. To manage this, we need to apply these distribution changes not only to feed ranking but to all of our recommendation systems for things you should join.”
The product was launched at the British Parliament, and she wondered why of all the groups Facebook could have chosen to “protect,” it chose Muslims.
“Are Muslims the most targeted group in the world today? In Canada, according to fresh statistics, hate crimes against Muslims have fallen while hate crimes against Jews have risen. In the United States, according to Gatestone’s A. Z. Mohamed: ‘Since 1992 … anti-Semitic incidents have been higher than those perpetrated against other groups. … To this day, the greatest number of reported religion-based hate crimes have been directed at Jews, and the second greatest against Muslims… in 2015 … there was a sharp rise in religion-based hate crimes, particularly against Islam and Muslims. Yet even then, Jews were 2.38 times more likely than Muslims to become victims of a hate crime.'”
It includes only a cryptic message to Islamic terror, stating at the very end, “If you see someone sharing terrorist content and encouraging others to join extremist groups, report them and then make or share posts that show true Islamic messages of peace, mercy and tolerance.”
Similar statements from Zuckerberg about Jews or Christians? she wondered.
And guides for members of those faiths?