The Washington Post’s recent editorial on Facebook’s censorship campaign is embarrassing, not just because of its use of cliches. “a rising chorus,” its lack of logic (mentioning but not explaining how Louis Farrakhan fits into an editorial on white supremacy), but also because of its outright praise of Facebook’s censorship. The newspaper that boldly implies it is protecting democracy by shining light on darkness has written an editorial which states that Facebook’s removal of Alex Jones, Louis Farrakhan and others from their platform “is encouraging.”
According to the Washington Post, what Facebook has done in banning Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan is just a beginning. “There’s much enforcement work to do to ensure that Facebook will not have to ban Jones again-again (sic).” The Washington Post is not the only newspaper supporting Facebook’s censorship. Newsday has also done so.
As I argued in my last post, “Facebook is a platform not a publisher, therefore they have no right to ban anyone, even if Facebook is a private company. Facebook is akin to a public utility like the old Bell Telephone System, which the government broke up because it was a monopoly. When Facebook bans users like Alex Jones and Louis Farrakhan because of their political positions, it is like a phone company refusing someone phone service because they might use the phone to promote white supremacy, black nationalism or conspiracy theories. It is not the same as a newspaper deciding to not publish someone’s racist letter.”
It’s not just embarrassing but also shocking when newspapers take an official position, which is what an editorial is, supporting censorship. It turns the whole history of free speech in America, all the gains we have made over the centuries, on its head. To use a cliche the Washington Post might use, the Post’s editorial supporting censorship must have Peter Zenger spinning in his grave.