Corey DeVos and I have been discussing this issue on Facebook.
I will show you what has been said so far.
I asked facetiously in response to a post from Corey about this new forum:
Will you be issuing a statement about Alex Jones?
I am still shaping my own thoughts around the Alex Jones issue, but my sense right now is that the decision to ban him from these platforms is in no way a “free speech” issue as many are making it out to be. The fact of the matter is, he wasn’t banned without cause, he was banned for repeatedly violating terms and conditions after being warned several times. I would also ban Alex Jones from the Integral Life community as well, particularly if he explicitly violated our own terms and conditions.
Folks like Alex Jones have a right to free speech, but he does not have a right to use these various platforms to amplify that speech. He can still make videos and publish them on his site, he just can’t use a third party platform like YouTube to publicize them. He can still offer his podcast, he just can’t expect iTunes to deliver new listeners to him.
A lot of people are feeling a bit trigger happy right now, and want to see this as an example of the left’s assault on freedom of speech, but I really do not think that is the case. Speech is free, but megaphones are not.
My own .02 pesos
I responded by saying:
I would agree with you if you banned him from Integral Life, Corey. I would support you 100%.
With regard to the free speech issue, it is not so much about Alex to me, though his case is worth looking into carefully to see whether his rights have been infringed upon and whether they are maintaining double standards, but whether this is one more episode in a campaign to ban their political opponents.
I’m pretty sure we can find repeat violators of their terms and conditions on the Left who aren’t being banned or even questioned on the issue, so this is what troubles me.
They are already demonetizing their political opponents (e.g., Dave Rubin), so I see this as a part of a larger trend of two terms of conditions: one for the Left and one for the Right.
As far as I can see, it is more about politics than protecting people’s feelings – if it were about protecting people’s feelings we would see bannings of Leftists as well.
David Marshall I absolutely agree that these standards need to be applied universally. I’d love to hear about any equivalent offenders among the left who have received leniency around similar hate speech warnings (though I am not sure Alex Jones really has an analogue anywhere on the left). The issue, of course, is that “hate speech” as legally defined is typically something you see more of from the right than from the left, and when these accounts are rightfully banned it might leave an uninformed observer with the impression that this must be evidence of partisanship. But if anyone on the left was using these platforms to spread hate speech or threaten violence, then I absolutely would want them banned after receiving a warning.
The larger point, I think, is that these platforms have been largely abused by extremists over the last few years, which in turn has swung the Overton window to a dangerous degree, even smashing it altogether, and I am happy to see some rudimentary immune system starting to come online.
I personally don’t think it’s about either politics or feelings, I think it’s about behavior that violates terms and conditions — and ultimately about the corporation’s bottom line, since it’s hard to sell ad space for hate speech. Especially since Jones was given several warnings from each of these platforms, with multiple opportunities to change his behavior, but instead he doubled down and now wants his followers to believe he’s been victimized by the derp state.
“I would agree with you if you banned him from Integral Life, Corey. I would support you 100%.”
Thank you for your support here! My question is, what happens if all of our wildest dreams came true, and Integral Life suddenly blew up to the size and influence of a company like Google? Do our own terms and conditions need to change as we scale? Is it okay for more niche communities like us to enforce these sorts of conditions, but not for larger platforms?
Put differently, should a community’s terms and conditions reflect the center of gravity of that community, or does a community’s TAC help define the center of gravity of that community? It’s interesting comparing IL to FB – one is all depth and very little span, and the other is all span with very little depth.
Tangent: one of the things that has truly driven me crazy lately is the hypocrisy among the anti-net neutrality folks on the right who are calling Jones’ suspension a blatant attack on free speech, but want to allow ISPs an even stronger and more sinister mechanism to silence speech. Apple cannot kill Alex Jones’ RSS feed, even if they refuse to serve it within their own platform. But without net neutrality protections, Comcast could kill his feed completely, or else make it completely unavailable to their customers.
But even here it is a good idea to keep ourselves from becoming too polarized, because I fully support an ISP’s right to refuse server space to a site like Stormfront.
In response to his query about “equivalent offenders among the left who have received leniency around similar hate speech warnings,” I showed him the Twitter account of Louis Farrakhan, who also has an account on Facebook and YouTube:
That is pretty much where the conversation stands now. I have more to say, but this post is probably long enough as it is, so I will bring it to a close.