Was the banning of Infowars on most social media justified?


#21

I think on the one hand that is fair because of Buzzfeed’s clickbait reputation. But on the other hand, Buzzfeed has actually been putting together a decent team of investigative journalists over the last couple years. If you look at the reputations of the actual journalists, rather than your sense of the reputation of their employer, it helps you take their stories a bit more seriously and avoid genetic fallacies.

Just like I generally loathe Fox News, while also knowing that they actually have one or two legitimate journalists on their team (notably Shepard Smith) which prevents me from completely eliminating Fox News as a source. True, partial, etc.

I think that is a reasonable interpretation of Jones’ words. But I also think it’s reasonable to say that Jones is intentionally using dog whistle double entendres to rile up his audience, while retaining just enough plausible deniability to avoid any responsibility if and when someone in his audience takes his words literally rather than metaphorically.

Which is literally the legal case that his lawyers made in a recent lawsuit — it turns out that, according to his own defense, Jones is a “performance artist” and no reasonable person would expect that Jones speaks factually on his show.

In other news, Alex Jones’ radio station was just shut down by the FCC. I see many people trying to make the claim that this is just another part of the massive conspiracy against him, when in fact it was because he was operating a private radio station off a 50-foot tower in an apartment complex, and blatantly refused to get a license.

As far as I am concerned, as long as Jones can still publish his material on his own website, he is still enjoying his share of “free speech” — at least until he violates the T&C of his own ISP. He is not entitled to use these other social media platforms, and he is certainly not entitled to running an illegal pirate radio station out of an apartment complex.


#22

Aaah nuance, yes I appreciate that Corey. I find it bloody hard these days with some of the pathology of green of which Buzzfeed is plenty guilty of. But you are right there are gems anywhere and I’ve read some good reports form Buzzfeed even it was through my own gritted teeth. Not sure if it was you or Robb Smith somewhen pointed out the dangers of the echo chamber online but it’s very true. One of the reasons I’m glad integral has it’s new sparkly forum.

Yep, I’m coming to the appoint of agreeing more although for me it’s a two way thing. I think this is a terms of service issue or responsibility of the voice you put out there issue (dunno what the actual term is personally I can’t stand the term ‘hate speech’ as though hate has no place in the world), and a genuine free speech issue. I feel as though Alex is in fact fighting some big unsavoury forces out there at times, AND he is also wreckless at times with how he criticises people, or overestimates the power of the pepole he thinks are pulling all the worlds strings. He seems like anyone who loses it in fighting a war, overestimating the actual danger but as I say, unlike others here I don’t believe he’s a raving maniac, or particuarly right wing other than his beliefs on guns. I believe like any hero, genuine or otherwise, there is always a danger of being destructive which is the shadow side of any hero. As others have said though it’s emboldened him more not less, Infowars seems stronger than ever.

True but this was a battle in a custody case so was quite a personal matter. And shows my differing opinion of your take on him. I absolutely agree sometimes he cloaks some of his darker outbursts under the guise of performance, but I believe that’s more a fiery wall and blindspot. Him saying this in court simply sounds like a niche excuse in this one legal battle. Alex to me seems very sincere, alot of genuine emotion that take somewhat of a performance tone but only through rants, comedy and emotional catharsis, and the “performance artist” sounded like more a way to water down his views and behavior that is likely to be far too edgy within the context of a custody battle. And as we know with men’s issues men tend to get very unfair treatment in battles for their kids so I think this is a terrible example to draw conclusions from. Sounds like something lawyers just told him to say to get access to his children and nothing more.

That said, if it’s good enough to persuade in court it does mirror your point that it’s very hard to tell what he truly thinks at times which is useful camouflage.

That makes for a comical picture for me. I wonder how he has managed to hide a 50 foot tower for so long :). Again though to me is a double issue. He’s clearly in the wrong on some things, but why all suddenly does it come at once. There is plenty of evidence that right wing or conservative views have been treated unfairly by the various social media sites. There are articles coming out now for example that say that Zuckerburg of Facebook himself made the decision to ban Jones from his platform, so right at the top of the authority chain which doesn’t sound much like a clear cut judgement of breaking terms of service or ethical grounds. rather one very powerful man’s opinion. A good chunk of the debate as well seems to rest on personal opinions on how valid Alex Jone’s voice is. Which I dare say is valid really. If he’s a raving maniac then I can see why people would palm off any suggestions of huge companies flouting imbalanced power. But Infowars has a very hefty subscriber base in the millions. My experience of his fans is that they are not particularly fringe or outcast, and some of them are decidedly well informed. And that goes even more for his guests. One of whom is now POTUS.

And that said, I still haven’t heard anyone actually point to some concrete evidence of the harm he’s done :D.


#23

In my view, there is a lot of confusion about the nature of Leftist intolerance these days.

Many, especially in the integral community, see it as humanistic, principled “Green,” as if they are concerned about people’s feelings. I think there are people like that, but I think the prevalence of Green has been vastly overestimated.

Several scholars – including Jonathan Haidt, April Kelly-Woessner, and Stephen L. Carter – trace the intolerance to Herbert Marcuse’s 1965 essay “Repressive Tolerance.”

https://heterodoxacademy.org/how-marcuse-made-todays-students-less-tolerant-than-their-parents/

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-03-06/the-ideology-behind-intolerant-college-students

Marcuse explicitly argued in favor of repressing conservative voices not because he was a sensitive Green guy – he encouraged political violence – but because he was a shameless, open Marxist who couldn’t care less about deliberative democracy.

There are other sources of this intolerance (Antonio Gramsci, Saul Alinsky, etc.), but I think they are probably right in naming Marcuse as the principal source.

If banning Infowars were a principled, humanistic maneuver, we would see them banning all bigots and delusional conspiracy theorists, but we don’t. We generally only see them banning people on the Right.

Meanwhile, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, several Left-wing hate groups still have accounts on Facebook, Google, and Twitter – and no one in the MSM even complains.

Put these facts together with the evidence that it was pressure from congressional Democrats that led to the banning, and you will see that this is political, not principled.

I can demonstrate that there is at least as much Left-wing violence in the U.S. as Right-wing violence – the studies on this are typical postmodern obscurantism – so if it is violence we are concerned about, we should be just as concerned about Left-wing violence and Left-wing dog whistling.

An integral view would be just as concerned about “Amber with a Red driver” on the Left as on the Right and would insist on equal application of the law, which by the way is one of the ideas the radical Left objects to.

I think today’s progressives (including the Democrats, much of the media, etc.) drum up hysteria in various ways to gain ideological and institutional advantage – just like conservatives did in the McCarthy era, the Cold War, the 1980s war on drugs – and this is what is behind this banning.

If we don’t see similar bannings of Left-wing groups, that will be the confirmation it is political, if any is needed.

This is not our parent’s Democratic Party any more than it is our parent’s Republican Party. I used to accept the idea that Democrats are Orange and Green, Republicans Amber and Orange, but I don’t anymore. I think this is based on obsolete developmentalism like Spiral Dynamics 1.0.


#24

Here is an excerpt from an interview with Mark Zuckerberg on July 18.

The House Judiciary Committee meeting was on July 17, so the interview may have taken place the day after, or if there was a delay in publishing it might have taken place the day of the hearing or earlier.

Kara Swisher: Let’s talk about InfoWars. Let’s use them as the example.

Mark Zuckerberg: Sure. . . .

Swisher: Why don’t you wanna just say “get off our platform?”

Zuckerberg: Look, as abhorrent as some of this content can be, I do think that it gets down to this principle of giving people a voice.

A few weeks later, he changed his mind and banned them.

What changed his mind so much in less than three weeks?


#25

Prager University tweeted the following today:

It’s looking like Infowars was just the beginning of a wider effort to suppress conservative voices in the run up to the midterm elections, as many expected.


#26

Have a look and see for yourself. Too hateful?


#27

Lol. Incredible. One could almost make the case that twitter hates men based on that, or perhaps just traditionalism, probably equal parts both I dare say.


#28

Hi David,

I did look at this PragerU video. Truth be told, if you hadn’t referred to it as “conservative voices,” and if the site itself hadn’t been identified as conservative, I would never have connected this video with conservatism. I think it debases conservatives, Or perhaps I have an erroneous or naive or too rosy of a view of conservatism; could be.

I don’t know if I would call it “hate speech,” but it is a bit disconcerting to me for several reasons.

  • It equates masculinity with violence. Had she said masculinity “has the capacity for violence in defense of (self, others, country, etc.),” it would have been more palatable, but she didn’t say that. And even if she had, it still would not have been accurate enough or definitive enough as it would not have differentiated masculinity from femininity, which also has the capacity for violence in defense of (self, others, country, etc.), If I had a son, this is not the kind of message I would want him to receive about masculinity. It’s certainly not how I see masculinity. Is this truly a conservative view? That kind of blows me away, that it would be stated in such terms. Testosterone-fed aggressiveness, perhaps, but there’s a line between that and violence. Most men I know or have known, including the most Neanderthal. are not violent.

  • The statement that “greed builds strong economies” I recognized from the Michael Douglas “greed is good” speech in the movie “Wall Street.” It was abhorrent there, and I find it abhorrent here. That’s not “hate speech” per se, but it is, at least to me, an idea whose time is well-past, or should be. Is this truly a conservative view?

  • I considered that perhaps this was all tongue-in-cheek, but if so, it was unsuccessful in that regard. I also considered that it might be just provocation for provocation’s sake. If its message was meant exactly as stated, well, I would not have rated it on the conservative–liberal scale, but on the dumb and dumber scale. And I’m sorry, but I would have to give this a “dumbest.”

I’m sure you’ll clear me up if I’m not seeing something I need to see.


#29

The video from PragerU was not something I would seek out to watch but for sure there is no reason that I can see that it violates Facebooks terms and is not Hate Speech by a long shot.


#30

Hi, LaWanna.

I posted the video because it had been banned (temporarily) to show what kinds of things they were going after, but I’d be happy to look at the content as well. I will respond to your first two points, and that should answer the third as well.

(1) I think it’s important to understand that this video was in response to a lot of man-hating on the Left. They have been continually demonizing men as a group, and this is not just the fringe; this is the dominant faction of intersectionalism today. Here are a few examples:

But of course they are not interested in banning this kind of hatred and smearing of an entire group; they celebrate it and promote it, in fact.

Clearly, this is not sensitive Green or even Orange, which respects individuals rights, but Amber or Mythic-Rational forms of Leftism.

(2) She said, “The traits that foster greed also grow economies,” so it appears she believes in traits that are prior to greed that could be harnessed for good if developed in the right way.

We could also look at it developmentally: Red individual greed can be developed into Amber ethnocentrism, then Orange Enlightened self-interest, then Green worldcentrism, then planetcentric/all-species care, then kosmocentric devotion.

I have to add that usually on the Left we are seeing new forms of Amber ethnocentrism, not Green worldcentrism or anything higher, as I think certain systems bandied about in integral circles (e.g., Spiral Dynamics) encourage gross pre/trans fallacies (e.g., Mythic-Rational Leftist intolerance is often confused with the relatively rare Green sensitivity).


#31

I think the most important thing I can say right here and right now, David, is that I was really off-the-mark around that video, and thus, so were some of my comments.

Reading the articles you provided allowed me to put it in context, and when I looked at the video again, it was with new eyes. Still, and regardless, there is the fact that the list of my errors is long and indefensible. I did of course question and arrive at a few partial explanations to account for some of my brain cells having apparently been missing-in-action when I viewed and commented on the video, hoping to avoid such blunders in the future, but no guarantees on that front, I’m afraid.

I appreciate your parting and clearing the clouds around this, around me, and doing so with great thoroughness and more than a little grace. Thank you.


#32

It’s a tricky issue at the level of the political philosophy but not so much at the legal level. I am reminded of the judge who presided over the about whether the Democratic party unfairly suppressed the possibilities of a Sanders victory and forced the Clinton campaign upon us. The judge’s conclusion was, “Yes. They definitely cheated. It was rigged. However the Democratic is not a public institution. Like the Republicans, it is a private corporation that can do whatever it likes. It is under absolutely no legal pressure to represent the interests of the people or abide by any “fairness” standards.”

Alex Jones, likewise, appears to have run afoul (intentionally or unintentionally) of the regulations put in place by private corporations governing what they provide on their media platforms. Facebook, Google, etc. are not public services. This is the situation. The banning of Alex Jones seems fair by that standard but it need not be. They could freely dispense with anyone they like. They are not the government. They are not beholden to the public good.

Now, this is where the actual question emerges:

SHOULD these systems be considered to be public services?

At what point do you cross the threshold from private to public? How do we transition to new standards about what is necessary for citizens? Should banks be private corporations if they can lose our money and therefore not provide it? Or are they a public service like water and highways? What is Facebook? A private company or a public service? What determines how we approach that threshold of decision making?


#33

You bring up some really great points! I was just watching a youtube video with Jordan Peterson that brought the same issues up. I thought I would add it here for anyone who finds him interesting.

(Please note I really enjoy Jordan Peterson commentary but please don’t assume I am smitten and in love with everything he says).


#34

Layman Pascal, I think we have some legal questions and some ethical questions.

First, even if Facebook is within their legal rights to ban Jones and their legal status isn’t going to change, was it ethically right to ban Jones?

No one thinks that Jones offered worthwhile content as far as I have heard, but are the standards being applied evenly? Is content of similar moral-cognitive level on the Left being banned?

The answer to those last two questions is no, so the social-media companies maintain politically motivated double standards or are pressured by activists to maintain those double standards.

Should they have the legal right to maintain double standards or set their own rules on expression?

They are essentially monopolies, so people don’t have much of an option for social media at this point.

Also, these platforms have become a potent medium in politics and culture, arguably as a group the most potent medium.

So should private companies – particularly those who maintain double standards or political biases – be able to control the most potent medium in cultural and political discourse in our countries?

I would say no.

This would be no better than a totalitarian state controlling the press.

These monopolies need to be broken up, or they need to be politically neutral.


#35

To add a tiny bit to the discussion; the supreme court may have ruled on a similar situation in the 1940’s.


#36

Couldn’t agree more, also comparing pointing out and comparing moral-cognitive levels is a very good point. And comparing that to the left and right. Although I’m not entirely sure that hits the nail, even if it is of a lower level, there’s something to be said for it’s health vs. unhealth. Like healthy amber is probably more service to the world than a higher, say green at it’s most unhealthy.


#37

Hello David. You do a nice job of expanding on the point I was making. Legally there is not much issue but that is given the current understanding of these services. Ought they to be considered private holdings or public services? There are many de facto monopolies among which are the social media and search systems. Since it is highly improbable that political neutrality can be enforced in any meaningful way, the trust-busting activity of breaking up monopolies is the most practical measure.

The intergovernance procedures of a culture can fail in two respects. They can fail to intervene such that political governance systems such as private corporations can expand to the point whether they threaten the physical, emotional or intellectual environment upon which the fair functioning of everyone depends. The reciprocal is that they intervene, usually in response to pressure from private interests, to legal constrain citizens to purchase in a particular pattern.


#38

At this moment in time, the vast majority of “social media” takes place over these platforms. Should this social arena be interpreted as a public space or a private space or perhaps an amalgam of the two?
For another company to create a platform like youtube, a vast amount of resources are needed. Wouldn’t this be needlessly redundant?
Chances are, private companies can adapt faster than governments and will most likely be able to address these issues faster. But private companies do not have the same kinds of moral allegiances to public health than governments.
If the companies begin to act like the monarchs on Game of Thrones, could new platforms arise? Were talking about competing with trillion dollar companies. Even if they start acting like jerks, are they huge enough that it doesn’t really matter how they act? And do we really want to waste all that energy and C02 rebuilding the same infrastructure that already exists?
Can good free speech guidelines be created and imposed upon the companies? Surely Wilber might be able to create them, but could anyone else? I’m skeptical.
I’m not really sure what the answer is, but I see a lot of room for terrible mistakes to happen, both on the side of government regulation, and trillion dollar giants running amok smashing things. How to proceed?
Also, I’ve seen evidence of the green blind spot with regards to protecting religious free speech while a lynch mom is being incited for a cartoonist. So it seems the companies are just as blind as the rest of us when it comes to making meaningful decisions on these matters.
Is AJ a lynch mob inciter? Not yet. Then why is his rug being pulled when the lynch mob inciter isn’t? Unless a public framework is created, it leaves room for Game of Thrones like situations. Vying for power by controlling the rhetoric of the day, squeezing competing ideas out, along with the violent ones.