Politicians know that the First Amendment of the United States prevents them from making laws that forces people and companies to censor speech – but it doesn’t stop them from sending begging letters to Big Tech giants.
Facebook’s newest task, presented to the social network in a letter signed by a group of 30 US House of Representative Democrats, is to remove all speech that is deemed to be “anti-Muslim.”
But those who are critical of the move think that if Facebook were to comply and delete “100 percent” of content that’s seen as anti-Muslim, the effect would be the silencing any criticism of Islam.
The initiative is led by congresswomen Debbie Dingell with Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joining the letter, whose demands are very broad and imprecise – to eradicate anti-Muslim bigotry from the network. This should be helpful to Facebook, whose censorship, much like that on other centralized platforms, relies on non-transparency.
The problem, however, is that such sweeping censorship to whitewash one topic on Facebook would run contrary to US First Amendment free speech protections, and more importantly, that such an idea comes from more than two dozen US Congress members.
From the letter:
“In many of these instances, pages, events and other content are reported to Facebook but face delayed response times or are ignored. The platform’s slow reaction to these warnings underscores a pattern of negligence in responding to or removing content that promotes violence against these vulnerable communities and has allowed anti-Muslim content to proliferate on Facebook in a dangerous manner.”
Under such circumstances, critics now see evidence of government censorship on Facebook, rather than decisions to purge content taken by the company itself.