Not content to ease into middle age gracefully, Facebook has skipped the midlife crisis and gone straight into the role of matronly scold. Whereas normally one would enjoy some time between the wild days of college and fraternity house mother, Mark Zuckerberg and his crew have gone straight to the latter because they think they know what’s good for us.
They think that’s not being subjected to InfoWars’ highly dubious assertions mixed with some straight-up conspiracy theories, Danzig covers, and the truth about chemtrails. To that end, Facebook recently unpublished four pages related to Alex Jones and InfoWars. Currently, it’s a suspension and Jones can petition to have the pages republished—presumably if the offending posts are removed—and resume publishing their own brand of dissent and execrable claims while offering the finest herbal supplements.
You may be wondering why this is a bad thing. In an era in which society (and Zuckerberg) are increasingly taking on throughtcrimes, why should Jones and InfoWars be allowed a social media platform by private companies? The answer isn’t free speech. The answer is that all of society’s nuts, and their nutty beliefs, need to be kept out in the sunshine, available for everyone to see. Just ask The New York Times.
Of course, Facebook is a private company and can deny service as it sees fit. It seems it’s denying service in an attempt to ensure that President Trump becomes supreme emperor for life. Seriously, guys, think about what you’re doing. Maybe the best way to dispel the notion that tech companies want to become our benevolent overlords is to not behave like benevolent overlords.
This becomes especially true when the bans — that is, unpublishings — only move in one direction. Not that Occupy Democrats, Democratic Socialists Meme Makers Local 118, Collusion Information Network 9000, and 9/11 Truth Is Out There don’t serve the public interests. They do! Just like Jones and InfoWars.
They do so by keeping us apprised of what is actually going on out there, of what our more esoteric-thinking friends and family are pushing at any given moment. They remind us that the days of the newsletter and neighborhood gossip about what’s actually going on over at the Klopeks’ place are still going strong and thinking globally, even if they still act locally. National Enquirer didn’t achieve its success in spite of market forces, after all.
But instead of accepting this simple truth, the tech overlords think of humanity as something to be perfected, that can be perfected. Leaving aside the impossibility of that as well as skipping past the obvious Ultron reference, who charged them with making society better anyway? It certainly wasn’t me. Hopefully it wasn’t you, either. Social media isn’t about making the world a better place, it’s for sharing pictures of kids, crockpot recipes, and vague updates about your next divorce.
When Facebook—and Apple and Google—shift their focus from providing us with some tools to waste time and instead try to reshape the world, they make things worse.
Few people will go to the mats for Jones and InfoWars, and that quote from Father Niemöller isn’t really apt here, but we should reflect on what is becoming the standard operating procedure for our tech overlords. Unencumbered by the Constitution’s restraints upon our elected officials, they are freer to make decisions for us. Whereas the government is limited in what it can do, private companies like Facebook are not similarly bound.
When they come for the chemtrail prophets and the purveyors of nutritional supplements, we should stand up, not necessarily because they’re coming for us next, but because we’ll all benefit from standing athwart the tech giants, saying “Enough.” Willful ignorance may be bliss, but it’s no way to maintain a functioning society.