Facebook is an honour-free zone from the top down


Muhammad as published by the NZ Herald before they ran scared and are now ‘sensitive’ to people’s feelings.


Only two weeks after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg released a strongly worded #JeSuisCharlie statement on the importance of free speech, Facebook has agreed to censor images of the prophet Muhammad in Turkey — including the very type of image that precipitated the Charlie Hebdo attack.

It’s an illustration, perhaps, of how extremely complicated and nuanced issues of online speech really are. It’s also conclusive proof of what many tech critics said of Zuckerberg’s free-speech declaration at the time: Sweeping promises are all well and good, but Facebook’s record doesn’t entirely back it up.

Here’s the thing.  I don’t think we should go out of our way to create and publish images of Muhammad with the intent to upset Muslims.  But in return, when we do make or publish an image, I don’t think the response should include violence, terrorism, hostages, maiming and death.  

There is a huge disconnect between the two, and for Facebook to try and be the arbitor of what is and isn’t offensive causes it to pander to those that kill when offended.

Because it is simply easier that way.

All the media that refuse to publish images of Muhammad do so because their staff, insurance companies and intestinal messages all tell them they are less likely to be killed by a Christian suicide bomber.

Now, per the BBC, Facebook has blocked an unspecified number of pages that “offended the Prophet Muhammad” after receiving a court order from a local court in Ankara. A person familiar with the matter but not authorized to speak publicly confirmed to the Post that Facebook had acted to “block content so that it’s no longer visible in Turkey following a valid legal request.” In the past, social media companies that failed to comply with such requests — including Twitter and YouTube — have been blocked in the country, entirely.

I can live with that.   A legal court order.  Process of law.  Only for the country that it applies to.  That’s sensible.

Facebook is a global company, of course, and must obey the laws of each country it operates in; the site can’t exactly pick and choose which regulations it finds agreeable, and it’s the site’s long-standing policy to comply with subpoenas, warrants and other government requests, provided they meet what Facebook calls a “very high legal bar.” (The company declined to comment on this particular case.)

Still, there’s something a bit grating about the decision, coming so very soon after Zuckerberg’s rosy-eyed epistle on free speech. It would be unfair to fault Facebook for complying with a legitimate foreign government request, regardless of how repressive it may seem. But for Facebook to do that while simultaneously styling itself as the patron saint of political speech? It seems a little disingenuous, to say the least.

“I’m committed to building a service where you can speak freely without fear of violence,” Zuckerberg said in his Hebdo statement.

Not so committed then.  Just like our own “free press and freedom of speech” mainstream media ‘mates’ who talk the talk but don’t walk the walk.


– Caitlin Dewey, Washington Post

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story.  And when he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet.   Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet, and as a result he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist that takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him.  But you can’t ignore him.