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Facebook ban on extremist expressions inspires First Amendment debate

To combat extreme and inaccurate information on its platforms, Facebook and its prodigy Instagram are banning Alex Jones, Infowars, Milo Yiannopoulos, Louis Farakhan, the latter for making anti-Semitic remarks. The company is also banning the lessor knowns Paul Joseph Watson, Laura Loomer and Paul Nehlen. The company said they have always banned accounts that promote or engage in violence and hate. (The Atlantic, May 2, 2019, by Taylor Lorenz)

Observing that the First Amendment protects the citizenry from government restrictions on their speech, Jon Healey in the Los Angeles Times, May 3, 2019, argues that given that Facebook has been “such a trusted source of unreliable information,” it is entitled to right the ship by banning bad information. Criticized for banning voices on the right more than those on the left, Facebook is entitled to enforce its terms of service, regardless of how that turns out.

Lobbyist John Feehery and former Republican speech writer and communications director argues in The Hill, May 6, 2019, that Facebook should defend the First Amendment by setting an example for other platforms and the government. Feehery writes that it would be more in concert with the ideals established by our founders to uphold the rights of those who peddle “bad ideas, dumb conspiracy theories, counterproductive movements and vile, racist thoughts.” We should have faith that through “rational discourse, sound science and solid evidence” truth will prevail.

For recent FAC coverage on the issue, click here and here

 

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