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Facebook acts as a publisher, selectively censoring what suits it

Mark Fletcher
January 10th, 2020 · 2 Comments

Facebook permits the publishing of clearly false and misleading information shared by individuals, community groups and commercial entities on the Facebook platform. Over the last four weeks, during the bushfire crisis, we have seen Facebook permit extraordinary lies to remain published, and, indeed, be shared by many. Facebook have cared little for truth during this.

Facebook ignores or rejects complaints to them about untruthful posts. I suspect it ignores the complaints because plenty of the posts are boosted, paid for. To reject the posts would harm the Facebook business model.

A week ago we discovered a bunch of boxes had been dumped in the car park at our office. The recipients of the parcels had to removed their name and address details. We took photos and I posted about it on Facebook. One of the named people complained and the post was removed by Facebook in a few hours.

Facebook says it was a breach of privacy yet the boxes were dumped, illegally actually, with the information I included out in the public domain.

That Facebook acted so swiftly demonstrates its editorial capability. It is disappointing that it does not use this editorial capability on clearly false and misleading information. My disappointment at Facebook turns to anger during election time when the company permits untruths to be spread, impacting informed engagement in the democratic process.

While we do have news outlets in Australia that also publish untruths, this is especially true of News Corp. outlets, there is some semblance, insufficient in my view but a semblance nevertheless, of accountability. Facebook faces no such accountability.

Truth matters. You only have to look at the back burning nonsense published on social media during the bushfire crisis to see this. There were hundreds (thousands?) of posts claiming that the Greens had blocked back burning. The Greens have never controlled any state or federal parliamentary chamber. The only time a Greens politician had any say over back burning was in the ACT for a brief time and that Greens politician oversaw extensive back burning. Yet, social media platforms like Facebook permitted the nonsense to be published. Complaints went unanswered.

Back to my post about the boxes. One of the people named called me and said that they paid someone else to dump their trash so it was not their problem and that it was not their fault that their address details were not removed from the boxes. They offered to come and pick up their trash. However, once Facebook removed the post I’ve not heard from them again.

Click here to see a New York Times article from today on this topic.


Category: Ethics · Social responsibility

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Paul // Jan 10, 2020 at 10:39 AM

    simple don’t read facebook we have no idea most of the time who the writer is


  • 2 Peter // Jan 10, 2020 at 10:49 AM

    I believe Facebook is Publishing with out responsibility. Then again there is also Lord Rupert.


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