With the bans of Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer and others from Facebook and Instagram yesterday, for being what Mark Zuckerberg considers “dangerous,” those who promote non-establishment narratives online are wondering: who’s next, and where?
One thing we’ve learned over the past three years of ever-tightening social media censorship is that where one tech giant goes, the others often follow.
Just look at the mass-ban of Infowars that occurred last September. At the urging of CNN and others, one Silicon Valley company after another dropped the controversial independent media outlet from their platforms. First Apple, then Facebook, then Spotify, then YouTube, then Twitter — most of these in a 48-hour window.
It’s a tech censorship domino effect. Remember that these companies are beset by constant pressure from left-wing advocacy organizations, from the mainstream media, and from their own far-left employees to censor and blacklist the right. When one company buckles, those forces have the ammunition they need to force other companies to buckle too.
“Apple did something! Why aren’t we doing something too?”
That’s probably how the conversation went among Facebook employees in the window between Apple’s ban of Infowars and Facebook’s. Thus the domino effect began.
This time it’s Facebook raising the bar of censorship, with its introduction of politically motivated link-banning. Not only have they banned Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones’ personal account, but they’ve also promised to delete any links to Infowars that appear on the platform, and ban anyone who tries to post them too often.
This is a formula not just for banning high-profile political targets, but masses of their supporters as well. It’s a tool for culling the anti-establishment grassroots.
The second thing Facebook has done is set a public precedent for targeting individuals not just for alleged violations of the terms of service on their part, but also on the basis of their connections to banned figures.
According to the Verge, a Facebook representative explained that one factor in yesterday’s bans was the fact that the banned individuals had appeared in videos or praised people like Gavin McInnes and Tommy Robinson, who have previously been banned by the platform.
In other words, it’s not just posting links. If you praise the wrong person, pose for a selfie with them, or worse — appear in a video with them — you could be banned too.
This is censorship on a new scale, censorship Facebook-style. The platform’s slogan was once “connect the world” — now it’s using its knowledge of those connections to censor not just individuals, but entire social networks and movements.
The only question is, will other companies now follow suit? Will independent personalities on YouTube be banned for interviewing the wrong person? If you invite Alex Jones on your Periscope channel, will that be banned too? What about Amazon, Discord, Spotify? Game streaming platform Twitch is already ahead of the curve, having a person banned from Twitch on your Twitch stream can result in your own banning.
Remember, this is far-left Silicon Valley we’re talking about. You can practically hear the employees of those companies, berating their upper management.
“Facebook took a stand against hate speech! Why aren’t we?”