Facebook users, including officials, by and large continue to consider the platform to be what it appears to be: a digital public square. But in reality, Facebook is telling them, time and time again, that it wants all the perks of being one – like billions of users and trillions of dollars in revenues – yet without any of the responsibility, like the “burden” of allowing free speech – whether it likes its contents or not.
Here's what some might see as another example of this “cognitive” and otherwise dissonance: Congressman Clay Higgins of Louisiana posting on Facebook in response to reports that armed participants in riots might show up in his neck of the woods. Higgins said they would be considered a threat and consequently “eliminated” as such, regardless of their race (“color”) or ideology.
Facebook chose to remove the post as promoting violence and incitement and thus breaking its rules.
The lawmaker's language was strong, and dare one say it, colorful – suggesting that threats of violence would be met with an equal response.
There's something of a twist in this story, too, compared to how most of them work these days: officials or public figures speaking their mind thinking they are entitled to do that on social networks; finding out these are tightly policed spaces these days; and then deleting their posts and/or issuing apologies – clearly in no mood to be canceled by angry online mobs, justified or otherwise.
Higgins, however, made sure to let his Facebook followers know he hadn't deleted his post – that Facebook did it – and his next message didn't sound like an apology, either.
“No, I did not remove my post. America is being manipulated into a new era of government control. Your liberty is being threatened from within. Welcome to the front lines, Ladies and Gentlemen. I suggest you get your mind right. I'll advise when it's time to gear up, mount up, and roll out.”
That post is now gone too.