Reader Email: Facebook Should Act More Like UPS And AT&T Instead Of Trying To Be The Police
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Every once in a while we get an email that’s too good not to share. Here’s one that articulated everything that is wrong with Facebook in one email better than we have in a billion and a half blogs we’ve written about it….
I understand that you’re dealing with a lot right now, and I’m also cognizant of the fact that everyone and his brother has been giving you advice on what to do to solve your problem. I’m not going to try to give you advice. I think the breach of contract angle is your best bet, and being part of a class action lawsuit is even better if you can get co-complainants.
I wanted to make some general observations about social media that are probably painfully obvious to anyone with half a brain, but they reveal a recurring theme that might be missed in the fog of war.
In the telecommunications industry, carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, and so forth are what as known as common carriers. They provide end to end service for users that is essentially blind or agnostic to content. Nobody ever tries to sue a Telco carrier because of the content that flows over their networks. These common carriers make no attempt to censor, control, or otherwise regulate the content that goes through their networks. They probably couldn’t even do it if they tried, but the point is that it’s great for them to be absolved of having to regulate content. Similarly, carriers like USPS, UPS, and FedEx also don’t know what in the packages they’re shipping, nor do they want to know.
Now, this doesn’t mean that anyone can break the law. UPS and FedEx will have guidelines that state you’re not supposed to ship firearms, ammunition, weed, or any other contraband, but it’s not up to them to enforce those laws. It’s ultimately up to state, local, and Federal law enforcement. If something illegal does get shipped, it’s not the carrier’s responsibility. Similarly, if someone uses Verizon’s network to transmit child pornography or sell opiates, that’s up to law enforcement to investigate and prosecute. Sure, the carrier will have to cooperate and turn over logs and records to help law enforcement identify law breakers, but the extent of their liability ends there.
So what has this got to do with you and your ongoing battle with the evil empire otherwise known as Facebook? Well, I’ve been thinking about this; a lot. The problem, as I see it, is that Facebook is not acting like a common carrier. Ideally, Facebook should be like any other common carrier: it should provide a platform and a service for individuals and businesses to use for whatever they want. You even admitted that you you’d be willing to pay for using it if they would just leave you alone. The problem with Facebook along with many other social media platforms is that they are trying to regulate the content of billions of users. It’s like a parent who has a billion kids and who thinks they can keep them from fighting and hurting each other. They can’t.
So Facebook thinks they can solve the problems of SPAM, cyber bullying, hate speech, racism, misogyny, homophobia, discordant political views, and anything else that might offend someone by using contract workers and automation to smother the millions of brush fires that flare up on it’s platform every day. As you’ve experienced first hand, this results in groups, individuals, and businesses being unfairly punished. Facebook has embarked on a fool’s errand. There’s always someone who will be offended by something, and there’s no way to make everyone happy. What Facebook should do is act like a common carrier and not censor anything. If laws are broken, they should work with law enforcement and let the justice system sort it out. But of course, Zuckerberg and his army of technocrats think that they can do this right. They can’t, and that’s why they will ultimately lose in court.
Facebook isn’t alone in this. Craigslist has a section called “Rants and Raves”. it uses a user-based flagging system to remove posts that the community doesn’t like. One could post a perfectly rational, defensible, civilized opinion and have it flagged off immediately because of the political views it supports. Another social media app that you may have heard of, called “Yik Yak” no longer exists because of pressure it received over cyber bullying. They even enabled virtual geo fences so that the app would not work near elementary, middle, and high schools in an attempt to placate its detractors. My daughters used it in college and loved it because people could say what they wanted anonymously without fear of censorship. Yik Yak no longer exists.
In summary, you’re doing all the right things. Keep doing what you are doing and don’t give up. Keep encouraging people to visit the web site. I only read TBS from the web site, and I never use Facebook because i hate it so much. If anyone ever came up with a Facebook-like social media application that acted like a common carrier and that was content blind, they’d make a fortune.
This turtle rider just articulated the problem better than we have in the billion and a half blogs we’ve written about Facebook. All social media platforms should be nothing more than mediums that people use to share ideas, pictures, videos, and opinions. Facebook should not be blamed if Russians use it as a medium to influence our election. Facebook should not be blamed if people use it to share images of terrible and illegal things. Facebook should not be blamed if users use “hate speech,” bully, or share pornography. There’s porn all over Twitter and they survive. This is why we have police. Facebook should stick to what they’re best at – enhancing their user friendly site that is the greatest communication tool the world has ever seen. They should stay out of policing, because they’re not good at it.
Just think of how impossible their goal is. They have almost 2 billion users, who make hundreds of millions of posts and comments every single day. How the hell could you possibly think that a website with that many users could EVER be properly monitored? How delusional do you have to be to think Facebook could EVER be anyone’s safe space?
The analogy with having a billion kids was spot on. I have two. They’re always whining that the other one is doing something wrong. I have a hard enough time putting out those fires, and I deal with it because they’re children. So why is Facebook treating its adult users like children? There should be a simple policy – if you see something you don’t like and you don’t wanna see anything like that again, then just block the user. Boom. Problem solved.
Instead Facebook feeds into this bullshit victimization society where they feel that their role is to make sure none of their 2 billion users ever have their feelings hurt. Ever. A noble pursuit indeed. But the problem is they haven’t invested in actual human beings with common sense and brains who can monitor things that people find offensive. And as a result their once great platform has been taken over by whiny little shits like Didi Delgado and Kevin Lynch, who basically can take down any page they want, simply because they don’t agree with it.
Facebook can keep doing this is they want, but it will only work so long as they have no competitor. We’d go to another social media outlet with 2 billion users, if only it existed. All it takes is one group of wealthy investors who believe in free speech, and see Facebook’s chink in the armor, and Facebook’s reign of terror is over.