Facebook’s Little Ethics Problem

Gatestone Institute, by Ruthie Blum, June 7, 2017:

  • Facebook has been aiding abusers of human-rights — such as China, Turkey, Russia and Pakistan — to curb the freedom of expression of their people.
  • “On the same day that we filed the report, the ‘Stop Palestinians’ page that incited against Palestinians was removed by Facebook… for ‘containing credible threat of violence’ which ‘violated our community standards.’ On the other hand, the ‘Stop Israelis’ page that incited against Israelis, was not removed. We received a response from Facebook stating that the page was ‘not in violation of Facebook’s rules.'” — Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of The Israel Law Center.
  • According to Darshan-Leitner, Facebook’s insistence that it cannot control all the content on its pages is disingenuous, if not an outright lie. After all, its algorithms are perfectly accurate when it comes to detecting users’ shopping habits.

There is a problem at Facebook. On May 8, the social media platform blocked and then shut down the pages of two popular moderate Muslim groups — on the grounds that their content was “in violation of community standards” — without explanation.

Had these pages belonged to the radicals who incite followers to violence, however, the move would have been welcome, and would have corresponded to Facebook’s Online Civil Courage Initiative, founded in Berlin in January 2016, to “challeng[e] hate speech and extremism online,” in the effort to prevent the use of social media as a platform for recruiting terrorists.

The pages that Facebook shut down, however — Ex-Muslims of North America, which has 24,000 followers; and Atheist Republic, with 1.6 million — do nothing of the sort. In fact, they are managed and followed by Arabs across the world who reject not only violence and terrorism, but Islam as a religion.

This, it turns out, is precisely the problem.

Angry Islamists, bent on silencing such “blasphemers” and “apostates,” troll social media and abuse Facebook’s complaint system. It’s a tactic that works like a charm every time, as conservative and pro-Israel individuals and groups — whose posts are disproportionately targeted by political opponents and removed by Facebook for “violating community standards” — can attest. As in most of those cases, the pages of the former Muslims were reinstated the next day, after their administrators demonstrated that the charges against them were false.

The president of Ex-Muslims of North America, Muhammad Syed, who is originally from Pakistan, complained about the practice in an open letter to Facebook, and demanded that the company do more to protect former Muslims from online harassment by Islamists:

“Ironically, the same social media which empowers religious minorities is susceptible to abuse by religious fundamentalists to enforce what are essentially the equivalent of online blasphemy laws. A simple English-language search reveals hundreds of public groups and pages on Facebook explicitly dedicated to this purpose [enforcing blasphemy laws online] — giving their members easy-to-follow instructions on how to report public groups and infiltrate private ones.”

Syed also started a Change.org petition, calling on Facebook to “prevent religious extremists from censoring atheists and secularists.” According to the website Heat Street, which broke the story, there are many other secular Arab groups that have been similarly flagged by religious Muslims on social media.

For its part, Facebook continues to claim that the sheer volume of material it deals with every day makes it virtually impossible even for its algorithms to distinguish accurately between posts that violate its own “community standards” and those that do not.

This claim has been refuted by attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, head of Shurat HaDin – The Israel Law Center, who has been engaged in a billion-dollar class action lawsuit against Facebook for failing to prevent or halt anti-Israel incitement on its pages. Darshan-Leitner decided to put her premise to the test at the end of December 2015, by creating two fictitious Facebook pages — “Stop Palestinians” and “Stop Israelis” — and posting hate-filled comments and clips on each.

For two days, from December 28-30, Darshan-Leitner’s organization continued to increase the level of incitement on both pages. For example, a post on the “Stop Israelis page” featured an anti-Semitic cartoon and the phrase “death to all the Jews.” Simultaneously, a post on the “Stop Palestinians” page read, “Revenge against the Arab enemy. Death to all the Arabs.”

At this point, according to Darshan-Leitner, Shurat HaDin reported both pages to Facebook and requested that they be removed.

“Facebook was very quick to respond to our reports,” she said on a YouTube video.

“On the same day that we filed the report, the ‘Stop Palestinians’ page that incited against Palestinians was removed by Facebook. Facebook sent us a response stating that the page was removed for ‘containing credible threat of violence’ which ‘violated our community standards.’ On the other hand, the ‘Stop Israelis’ page that incited against Israelis, was not removed. We received a response from Facebook stating that the page was ‘not in violation of Facebook’s rules.'”

Six days later, after a huge outcry in the Hebrew press and on social media, Facebook changed its initial judgement and removed the anti-Semitic page.

This kind of behavior is just what Muhammad Syed is railing about.

“Arab atheists, Bangladeshi secularists, and numerous other groups have been under attack for years, as religious conservatives in the Muslim world learn to abuse Facebook’s reporting system to their advantage. Early last year, multiple atheist and secularist groups were targeted with mass, coordinated infiltration and reporting — leading to the closure of many groups. These groups were eventually restored, but only after a lengthy and sustained effort by organizers to draw public attention to the issue.”

Darshan-Leitner said that although she does not consider Facebook guilty of incitement, its insistence that it cannot control all the content on its pages is disingenuous, if not an outright lie. After all, its algorithms are very accurate when it comes to detecting users’ shopping habits — information that advertisers pay a lot of money for the privilege of obtaining.

Furthermore, Facebook has been aiding abusers of human rights — such as China, Turkey, Russia and Pakistan — to curb the freedom of expression of their people. As the New York Timesreported last November, the social media giant quietly developed software to enable the Chinese government to suppress posts. This was CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s way of getting back in China’s good graces, after Facebook was banned from the enormous market in 2009.

Where Pakistan is concerned, the situation is just as delicate. In March, according to Al Jazeera, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif warned that blasphemous content on Facebook would be “strictly punished.”

Sharif has been trying to get social media outlets to adhere to his country’s blasphemy laws, which state that anything deemed insulting to Islam or Muhammad is a crime, and those convicted of it can be sentenced to death. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan called blasphemy “an issue about the honor of every Muslim,” and threatened to “take strong action” against Facebook and other platforms that do not comply. He also mentioned, however, that Facebook had agreed to send a delegation to Pakistan to work something out.

This was a mere few months after Facebook signed a “Code of Conduct on Countering Illegal Hate Speech Online,” produced by the European Commission and also endorsed by Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube, asserting “a collective responsibility and pride in promoting and facilitating freedom of expression throughout the online world.” This, it stated, “is applicable not only to ‘information’ or ‘ideas’ that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the State or any sector of the population.” (Emphasis added.)

This is a far cry from a whispered exchange, caught on a hot mic on the sidelines of a United Nations development summit in New York in 2015, between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg. Merkel confronted Zuckerberg about not doing enough to combat “xenophobic” posts relating to the influx of migrants into Europe in general and Germany in particular.

“We need to do some work on it,” Zuckerberg responded.

So far, all of Zuckerberg’s hard work seems to be paying off, but not for former Muslims such as Syed, seeking moral and intellectual support from the like-minded.

Ruthie Blum is a journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama and the ‘Arab Spring.'”

Facebook Has Been Regularly Shutting Down Atheist and Ex-Muslim Groups

***

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Heat Street, by Masha Froliak, May 9, 2017:

Yesterday, Facebook restricted and then shut down the public pages of Ex-Muslims of North America (24k followers) and Atheist Republic (1,6 million followers) –groups that advocate secularism and provide support to “apostates” (people who leave Islam and who often face persecution).

In fact, the ex-Muslim group claims that for the last several years, Facebook has been continuously blocking groups like it. The ex-Muslims have written an open letter to the social media giant, calling on it to “to stop exercising intellectual persecution” against atheist and ex-Muslim organizations and to “whitelist” such vulnerable groups from organized false flagging attacks.

On Monday, Muhammad Syed, the president of the Ex-Muslims of North America took to Twitter to report that the Facebook pages of Ex-Muslims and Atheist Republic were restricted (and the next morning shut down) “in violation of Facebook’s community standards”. No details were given as to what standards were violated. On Tuesday, after appealing the case, both groups were able to regain full access to their pages.

Syed believes the pages had been targeted in coordinated attacks by Muslim fundamentalists using “simple and effective” Facebook flagging tools to report that pages falsely for standards violations. Facebook, Syed said, isn’t doing enough to protect “groups vulnerable to malicious attacks”.

In the open letter to Facebook, which was revealed to Heat Street, Syed pressures the social media company to take measures to improve its reporting mechanisms and to protect ex-Muslim groups.

“Ironically, the same social media which empowers religious minorities is susceptible to abuse by religious fundamentalists to enforce what are essentially the equivalent of online blasphemy laws. A simple English language search reveals hundreds of public groups and pages on Facebook explicitly dedicated to this purpose – giving their members easy-to-follow instructions on how to report public groups and infiltrate private ones,” Syed writes.

The Atheist Republic group has been shut down 4 times in the last two years, Syed says, and then reinstated. He adds that attacks of this nature are not new and there are there are hundreds of Facebook accounts that are working to shut down atheist and ex-Muslim public pages in an organized effort. Facebook, he alleges, is doing nothing about it.

“Arab atheists, Bangladeshi secularists, and numerous other groups have been under attack for years, as religious conservatives in the Muslim world learn to abuse Facebook’s reporting system to their advantage. Early last year, multiple atheist and secularist groups were targeted with mass, coordinated infiltration and reporting – leading to the closure of many groups. These groups were eventually restored, but only after a lengthy and sustained effort by organizers to draw public attention to the issue,” he explains.

In his letter to Facebook, Syed, with the help of the Arab Atheist Network, compiled a list of groups that have been targeted in coordinated flagging attacks and shut down by Facebook in the last several weeks. At least nine other groups have been abused with Facebook’s reporting tool.

Syed, who was raised in Pakistan, believes that ex-Muslims are among the most persecuted groups in the world and that online platforms like Facebook are the “last refuge” for many atheists and secularists in the Muslim world.

Muhammad Syed

“Many of these groups are not simply pages – they are communities in which atheists who are abandoned by those around them find comfort, support and emergency assistance in case of persecution or abuse. The closure of these groups means the loss of these vital resources for the isolated and vulnerable,” Muhammad tells Heat Street.

The letter urges Facebook to create a “whitelist” for groups and pages that are vulnerable to such attacks and asks to penalize accounts that repeatedly abuse its reporting tools.

In the meantime, as Heat Street reported, in March Facebook kowtowed to officials in Pakistan and removed “blasphemous” content insulting Islam within the country. In this instance, Facebook had no problem with censoring freedom of speech on its platform.

Other atheist groups shut down by Facebook in the course of a month:

A Science Enthusiast (750,000 members)

Arab Atheist Network (23,500 members)

Arab Atheist Forum and Network (9,200 members)

Radical Atheists without Borders (23,500 members)

Arab Atheist Syndicate (11,000 members)

Arab Atheist Syndicate, backup (5,000 members)

Humanitarian Non-Religious (32,000 members)

Human Atheists (11,000 members)

Arab Atheists Forum and Network (6,400 members)

Mind and Discussion (6,500 members)

Facebook Enforces Sharia Blasphemy Laws

Published on Mar 31, 2017 by Acts17Apologetics

http://www.answeringmuslims.com
Pakistani officials are working with Facebook to purge the social network of content deemed “blasphemous” against Muhammad and the Quran. Further, Pakistan is demanding that Facebook help track down blasphemers for extradition and trial. Is Facebook becoming Sharia compliant?

Here are links to the articles quoted in the video:
https://www.dawn.com/news/1323131/fac…
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39…
http://www.cnbc.com/2017/03/16/pakist…

Zuckerberg-funded charity supports radical Islamic groups

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

WND, by Art Moore, March 30, 2017:

America’s wealthiest community foundation, with more than $8 billion in assets, has donated a total of more than $330,000 to two U.S.-based Islamic groups determined by the United Arab Emirates to be terrorist organizations.

The donations by the Silicon Valley Community Foundation to the Council on American-Islamic Relations and Islamic Relief are the targets of a national campaign by the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum.

MEF, led by Daniel Pipes, a noted writer and commentator on Islamic supremacist movements, is calling for immediate termination of the foundation’s funding for the Muslim groups in a Change.org petition.

Nihad Awad, executive director of CAIR (VOA Photo/M. Elshinnawi)

The Silicon Valley Community Foundation, or SVCF, is “the go-to charitable organization for some of America’s wealthiest philanthropists,” the petition notes.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg made a $500 million dollar donation to the foundation in 2013.

MEF said it privately contacted SVCF last month and presented evidence of CAIR’s and Islamic Relief’s extremist ties. SVCF leaders, however, “refused to discuss the matter” and “engaged in a flurry of ad hominem attacks on the Forum,” Israel National News reported.

MEF said it’s “unconscionable that such a leading institution as SVCF, which claims to support ‘understanding and tolerance,’ should help organizations that rely on ignorance and hatred.”

“To be precise, CAIR and Islamic Relief have a long history of providing platforms to speakers who denigrate and threaten women, Jews, Christians, the LGBTQ community, and Muslims belonging to minority sects,” MEF said.

CAIR has sued the authors of a WND Books expose, “Muslim Mafia: Inside the Secret Underworld That’s Conspiring to Islamize America,” which documented the group’s radical ties. A trial in the case is expected to commence this fall.

CAIR was an unindicted co-conspirator in a plot to fund the terrorist group Hamas, and both CAIR and Islamic Relief were designated as terrorist organizations by the United Arab Emirates in 2014, along with groups such as ISIS and al-Qaida.

According to evidence entered in the Justice Department’s Hamas-financing case, CAIR was founded by figures associated with Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, the worldwide movement that has stated its intent to transform the U.S. into an Islamic state. The case prompted the FBI to cut off its cooperative relationship with CAIR. More than a dozen CAIR leaders have been charged or convicted of terrorism-related crimes.

Commitment to diversity and tolerance?

In its petition, the Middle East Forum cites regular speakers at CAIR and Islamic Relief events who have rationalized honor killings and wife-beating and advocated the death penalty for homosexuals.

“It should not be politically divisive to state that these ideas are incompatible with SVCF’s self-proclaimed commitment to diversity and tolerance,” MEF says.

MEF also charges that through its funding, SVCF is “legitimizing Islamists as leaders of American Islam,” enabling them “to speak on behalf of ordinary Muslims.”

While CAIR has complained of the unindicted co-conspirator designation, as WND reported in 2010, a federal judge later determined that the Justice Department provided “ample evidence” to designate CAIR as an unindicted terrorist co-conspirator, affirming the Muslim group has been involved in “a conspiracy to support Hamas.”

In the ongoing lawsuit CAIR filed against the WND authors in 2009, the group alleged its reputation was harmed, and it sought damages in court.

But a federal court in Washington determined CAIR failed to present a single fact showing it had been harmed, and the organization gave up that specific claim.

Jordan is Fighting ISIS. So Why Did the Government Punish a Non-Muslim for Posting an Anti-ISIS Cartoon on Facebook?

Screen-Shot-2016-08-18-at-3.27.58-PMWhy is ‘division’ or Fitna such a serious crime in Islam?

CounterJihad, by Bruce Cornibe, Aug. 18, 2016:

In the West, some  tend to dismiss the threat of Sharia law, claiming incorrectly that it applies only to Muslims.

However, this is far from the truth. Let’s take a look at a recent example from the ‘moderate’ country of Jordan. Nahed Hattar, a Jordanian writer, turned himself into authorities after Jordan’s Prime Minister Hani Mulki called for an investigation of an ‘offensive’ cartoon that surfaced on Facebook.

This cartoon which allegedly shows the “God of Daesh” serving a jihadi in paradise is translated by Anwar el-Iraqi, an Arabic Affairs analyst for the Clarion Project:

In Green: In paradise…

Allah: “May your evening be joyous, Abu Saleh, do you need anything?”

Jihadist: “Yes Lord, bring me the glass of wine from other there and tell Jibril [the Angel Gabriel] to bring me some cashews. After that send me an eternal servant to clean the floor and take the empty plates with you.”

Jihadist continues: “Don’t forget to put a door on the tent so that you knock before you enter next time, your gloriousness.”

Hattar– who is a non-Muslim— said he posted the drawing to ridicule terrorists and their perspective on God and heaven and did not intend for it to be an insult to God.

Another article by Al Jazeera reveals that, in addition to mocking ISIS, Hattar was also exposing the Muslim Brotherhood. The Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood (which has demonstrated support for Hamas) is a major Islamist force within Jordanian society and has been known to stir up social unrest and exploit the anger of Palestinian Jordanians for the Brotherhood’s political gain.

Khaled Qudah, a media expert, explains to The Jordan Times that, “Hattar can be detained pending further investigation for violating article 150 of the Penal Code that bans contempt of religions and also for violating the Electronic Crimes Law[.]” Qudah continues,

What Hattar did incites hatred and sectarianism and may cause division… Preserving national security and social harmony and the public interest comes before freedom of expression even in international law. [Emphasis added]

Outside the context of Islamic law, we might be incredulous about be how a cartoon aimed at exposing radical Islam could be considered a threat to a Muslim nation’s national security.

To understand what he meant in the Islamic context, though, requires a closer look at the words used to describe the offense. The mocking cartoon, Qudah said, “incites hatred and sectarianism and may cause division.”

The incitement of division is a primary concern in Islam, as it relates to the stability of the Islamic regime. This concept is called “Fitna.” In the Historical Dictionary of Islamic Fundamentalism, Mathieu Guider defines it this way:

The Arabic term fitna refers to a division within a Muslim nation (umma) that includes a test of faith that can even lead to rebellion, chaos, or sedition. Historically, it is derived from the first Islamic civil war that occurred following the assassination of CaHph Uthman in 656. This war, which lasted from 656 to 661, was called the fitna. The term has since been used to describe a period when a Muslim community becomes unbalanced and then fragmented.

Moreover, it can mean that a person or group intentionally causes upheaval between people to create a situation to test the peoples’ faith. Fitna is also often used to illustrate a group that has undergone extreme moral and emotional grievances that then may compromise their faith and lead to a greater focus on material or worldly gains rather than spiritual ones.

For example, the Arab Spring has been qualified in Saudi Arabia as a fitna because it can weaken the community from within. The duality that occur s when being affected by a rebellion or a revolution is what can tempt Muslims to shy away from or even deny the authority of the Muslim leaders who are ruling in the name of Allah. Also, the temptations brought on by Western societies are another example of how division can occur.

The fear of fitna by the fundamentalists is a major reason why secular or pluralist governments are forbidden by sharia (Islamic law). The elements of such forms of government are seen to give too much temptation and lead to an inevitable division among the umma. For Islamic fundamentalists, there is only one true party: the Party of Allah (Hizbullah). This is so important because the Islamic state is based on the rhetoric of solidarity and unification. [Emphasis added.]

Especially when we see the seriousness with which this offense is taken in Islam, it’s clear that fitna is a concept that has a lot more in common with what we would consider the “political” rather than the religious.

Another major reason for such laws is essentially to protect Islam – which is why we aren’t seeing Muslims being thrown in jail for blaspheming the name of Christ, for example. Or when a member of Jordan’s Parliament, Khalil Attieh, displayed his hatred of Jews on television in 2014 by stating, “By Allah, it is an honor to incite against the Jews…”

We have seen before how Jordan’s King Abdullah has declared,

I am a Muslim and we are all Muslims, and extremists do not represent Islam. Our duty is to protect the reputation of Islam and Muslims.

Abdullah sees ISIS as on the periphery of Islam and seeks to delegitimize them; however, his government is going after an image that mocks ISIS’s alleged view of God and heaven.

Apparently, ISIS’s views on these matters aren’t as twisted as Jordan claims them to be in regards to Islamic beliefs.

If Jordan is seriously attempting to represent a ‘moderate’ form of Islam, why won’t they make this an opportunity to show how jihadists– who murder people so they can enjoy fleshly desires in paradise while being catered to (as portrayed in the cartoon)– have no place in their version of Islam?

Jordan is essentially upholding blasphemy laws that legitimize ISIS’s radical Islamic ideology. Just how disgusting is this ideology? It justifies the boiling of six men in containers of tar for being “accused of collaborating with the U.S.-led coalition and Kurdish forces[,]” and the killing of twenty-five people by forcing them in a tub of nitric acid for supposedly “spying and collaborating with Iraqi security forces[.]” Shouldn’t these be the guys Jordan seeks to prosecute?

According to Al Bawaba, public outcry over the cartoon ensued on social media and not only were some Twitter users insulted, but also seemed concerned about “civil order[.]” Of course, being in a Muslim majority country they seem well aware of the hyper-sensitivity of mocking Islam, which is ultimately found in Islamic texts:

Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment. –Quran 33:57

Narrated ‘Ali: The Prophet said, “Do not tell a lie against me for whoever tells a lie against me (intentionally) then he will surely enter the Hell-fire.” –Sahih Bukhari 1.3.106

Jordanian officials like King Abdullah help further advance this sentiment by denouncing insults to Islam like cartoons mocking Islam’s Prophet Mohammad and intimidating those who think about doing such things.

So, we have a supposed ‘moderate’ country in Jordan that punishes Muslims as well as non-Muslims for matters like blasphemy at fitna.

Even in places in Europe Sharia might not be the law of the land but because of fear of Muslim outrage the governing authorities may discourage or even punish those who make offensive or insensitive remarks about Islam – creating de facto blasphemy laws.

Federal Government Authorizes Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to Censor “Anti-Islam” Speech; Lawsuit Filed

3320334677Center for Security Policy, July 13, 2016:

Today, the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) under the First Amendment.

Section 230 provides immunity from lawsuits to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, thereby permitting these social media giants to engage in government-sanctioned censorship and discriminatory business practices free from legal challenge.

The lawsuit was brought on behalf of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer, and Jihad Watch.

As alleged in the lawsuit, Geller and Spencer, along with the organizations they run, are often subject to censorship and discrimination by Facebook, Twitter and YouTube because of Geller’s and Spencer’s beliefs and views, which Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube consider expression that is offensive to Muslims.

Such discrimination, which is largely religion-based in that these California businesses are favoring adherents of Islam over those who are not, is prohibited in many states, but particularly in California by the state’s anti-discrimination law, which is broadly construed to prohibit all forms of discrimination.  However, because of the immunity granted by the federal government, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are free to engage in their otherwise unlawful, discriminatory practices.

As set forth in the lawsuit, Section 230 of the CDA immunizes businesses such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube from civil liability for any action taken to “restrict access to or availability of material that” that they “consider to be obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, excessively violent, harassing, or otherwise objectionable, whether or not such material is constitutionally protected.”

Robert Muise, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel, issued the following statement:

“Section 230 of the CDA confers broad powers of censorship upon Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube officials, who can silence constitutionally protected speech and engage in discriminatory business practices with impunity by virtue of this power conferred by the federal government in violation of the First Amendment.”

Muise went on to explain:

“Section 230 is a federal statute that alters the legal relations between our clients and Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, resulting in the withdrawal from our clients of legal protections against private acts.  Consequently, per U.S. Supreme Court precedent, state action lies in our clients’ challenge under the First Amendment.”

David Yerushalmi, AFLC co-founder and senior counsel, added:

“Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have notoriously censored speech that they deem critical of Islam, thereby effectively enforcing blasphemy laws here in the United States with the assistance of the federal government.”

Yerushalmi concluded:

“It has been the top agenda item of Islamic supremacists to impose such standards on the West.  Its leading proponents are the Muslim Brotherhood’s network of Islamist activist groups in the West and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which co-sponsored, with support from Obama and then-Secretary of State Clinton, a U.N. resolution which called on all nations to ban speech that could promote mere hostility to Islam.  Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are falling in line, and we seek to stop this assault on our First Amendment freedoms.”

AFLC Co-Founders and Senior Counsel Robert J. Muise and David Yerushalmi, along with the plaintiffs in this case, Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, will hold a Press Call from 2:00-2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 13.  To access this press conference call, dial (641) 715-3655 and enter code 111815.

Also see:

The EU is Coming to Close Down Your Free Speech

1455Gatestone Institute, by Douglas Murray, June 11, 2016:

  • The German Chancellor was not interested in the reinforcement of Europe’s external borders, the re-erection of its internal borders, the institution of a workable asylum vetting system and the repatriation of people who had lied to gain entry into Europe. Instead, Chancellor Merkel wanted to know how Facebook’s founder could help her restrict the free speech of Europeans, on Facebook and on other social media.
  • Then, on May 31, the European Union announced a new online speech code to be enforced by four major tech companies, including Facebook and YouTube.
  • It was clear from the outset that Facebook has a definitional problem as well as a political bias in deciding on these targets. What is Facebook’s definition of ‘racism’? What is its definition of ‘xenophobia’? What, come to that, is its definition of ‘hate speech’?
  • Of course the EU is a government — and an unelected government at that — so its desire not just to avoid replying to its critics — but to criminalise their views and ban their contrary expressions — is as bad as the government of any country banning or criminalising the expression of opinion which is not adulatory of the government.
  • People must speak up — must speak up now, and must speak up fast — in support of freedom of speech before it is taken away from them. It is, sadly, not an overstatement to say that our entire future depends on it.

It is nine months since Angela Merkel and Mark Zuckerberg tried to solve Europe’s migrant crisis. Of course having caused the migrant crisis by announcing the doors of Europe as open to the entire third-world, Angela Merkel particularly would have been in a good position actually to try to solve this crisis.

But the German Chancellor was not interested in the reinforcement of Europe’s external borders, the re-erection of its internal borders, the institution of a workable asylum vetting system and the repatriation of people who had lied to gain entry into Europe. Instead, Chancellor Merkel was interested in Facebook.

When seated with Mark Zuckerberg, Frau Merkel wanted to know how the Facebook founder could help her restrict the free speech of Europeans, on Facebook and on other social media.Speaking to Zuckerberg at a UN summit last September (and not aware that the microphones were picking her up) she asked what could be done to restrict people writing things on Facebook which were critical of her migration policy. ‘Are you working on this?’ she asked him. ‘Yeah’, Zuckerberg replied.

In the months that followed, we learned that this was not idle chatter over lunch. In January of this year, Facebook launched its ‘Initiative for civil courage online’, committing a million Euros to fund non-governmental organisations in its work to counter ‘racist’ and ‘xenophobic’ posts online. It also promised to remove ‘hate speech’ and expressions of ‘xenophobia’ from the Facebook website.

It was clear from the outset that Facebook has a definitional problem as well as a political bias in deciding on these targets. What is Facebook’s definition of ‘racism’? What is its definition of ‘xenophobia’? What, come to that, is its definition of ‘hate speech’? As for the political bias, why had Facebook not previously considered how, for instance, to stifle expressions of open-borders sentiments on Facebook? There are many people in Europe who have argued that the world should have no borders and that Europe in particular should be able to be lived in by anyone who so wishes. Why have people expressing such views on Facebook (and there are many) not found their views censored and their posts removed? Are such views not ‘extreme’?

One problem with this whole area — and a problem which has clearly not occurred to Facebook — is that these are questions which do not even have the same answer from country to country. Any informed thinker on politics knows that there are laws that apply in some countries that do not — and often should not — apply in others. Contrary to the views of many transnational ‘progressives’, the world does not have one set of universal laws and certainly does not have universal customs. Hate-speech laws are to a very great extent an enforcement of the realm of customs.

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