MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Apple, Facebook and other tech companies delete content from Alex Jones

Posted by M. C. Fox on August 7, 2018

Executives defend the decision not to share exactly what content violated a policy because they fear it will prompt people to test it.

Alex Jones as Josef K.

http://www.jamestownsun.com/entertainment/podcasts/4481888-apple-facebook-and-other-tech-companies-delete-content-alex-jones

By Washington Post

Major technology companies including Apple, Facebook and YouTube deleted years of content from conservative conspiracy theorist Alex Jones and his Infowars platforms over allegations of hate speech, a sudden clampdown that is fueling the growing debate over how big technology companies choose to censor…

The recent actions by the technology companies also highlight the opaque nature of their decision-making, with most not publicly specifying what content by Jones violated their policies or how they decided what posts to block and which to leave online. Jones has treaded close to some definitions of hate speech for years, and it wasn’t clear from the companies if or when he finally crossed the line…

He warned, “You sold the country out, and now you’re going to pay for it.”

Some rallied to his side, including those who do not ordinarily support Jones but expressed worry about the power Silicon Valley has rapidly developed to squelch unpopular voices without formal due process or alternatives that are capable of commanding similarly large audiences.

Legal experts said the issues raised by the companies’ actions are complex.

“While private platforms aren’t bound by the restrictions of the First Amendment — generally only the government is — there’s a question about how much discretion they should choose to exercise over what speech they allow to flow through them,” said Jonathan Zittrain, faculty director of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. “That question can’t be wisely answered without noting how unfortunately central just a few intermediaries are — like Apple for podcasts, or YouTube, Facebook and Twitter for videos and links.”…

Some at the tech companies said it appeared felt as if Jones was purposefully trying to test the companies and their policies, by walking right up to a line that they haven’t quite made clear, according to three people familiar with deliberations. Executives defend the decision not to share exactly what content violated a policy because they fear it will prompt people to test it.

Sleeping Giants criticized other tech platforms including Facebook and YouTube for announcing their latest moved against Jones only after Apple did. “To say they’re now ‘silencing voices’ is to ignore the fact that they allowed them to be amplified in the first place,” the organization tweeted on Monday.

This article was written by Craig Timberg, Elizabeth Dwoskin and Hamza Shaban, reporters for The Washington Post.

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