As the arguement rages about Facebook’s liberal interpretation of free speech i.e. allowing Holocaust deniers the right to post freely on Facebook I am sure that the deniers and spreaders of hate are loving every minute of it but that is not the point of this blog.
Facebook and perhaps all Web 2.0 technology used for Social Networking de facto provides the infrastructure for a virtual society. One might say that the founders/ owners of Facebook have the right to define TOS however by creating a virtual society online that has little if any semblance of law/ code of acceptable behavior then is Facebook opening Pandora’s Box?
In the real world and in civilized society “hate crimes” based on race, gender, religious practice or orientation are treated as a special class of crime because of the actual not potential influence these incitements have to violence.
If it wasn’t simple Holocaust denial but perhaps recruiting Facebook residents for cyber or real-world acts of terror then we would certainly see a real world law enforcement response.
The freedom of speech issue is an American one and Facebook is an American company. Is Facebook liable for any acts of incitement and subsequent violence caused by the incitement that occurs within their virtual society? Moreso, is Facebook breaking the law, US Federal law by providing a platform for hate of this nature on servers that probably sit on US soil owned and funded by US citizens?
Perhaps the founders should visit Germany where Holocaust denial is illegal and admit that they provide a platform for this “free speech” or try to set up a Facebook server farm there. It would be interesting to see the official German response to this.
What is a legitimate reaction to encountering this kind of hate online? Should users indulge in Facebook petitions, or approach advertisers to leave Facebook, will users themselves boycott and leave Facebook as a result of this or will some users define a more militant approach to this?
One thing I do know is that Holocaust denial and other hate crimes have no place on Facebook or any other open social network platform. Legitimizing this kind of thing whilst hiding behind the constitution seems liberal naivete at best and at worst leaves us to question the true beliefs of the management of Facebook.