Zuckerberg and the Facebook thoughtpolice

Guy Birchall

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Billionaire, alleged tax-dodger, CEO and all-round PC dullard Mark Zuckerberg has said Facebook is not doing enough to combat hate speech.

At a recent townhall event in Berlin he pledged to work closer with the German authorities, and even offered to fund a section of the German police, in order to help Facebook expand its view of ‘protected groups’ and restrict ‘hate speech against migrants’.

Pardon my German, but what utter scheisse.

What Zuckerberg seems to be missing is that Facebook is supposed to be about enabling the free interaction of people – all this talk of ‘protected groups’ and ‘hate speech’ should be anathema to him. But Zuckerberg subscribes to the typical metropolitan, Silicon-Valley-via-Ivy-League brand of faux-liberalism, which actually has a lot in common with the fascism he claims to despise.

‘Hate speech has no place on Facebook or in our community’, he said. ‘Until recently in Germany I don’t think we were doing a good enough job, and I think we will continue needing to do a better and better job.’

But how exactly is Zuckerberg, or anyone else, going to decide what hate speech is? It’s just as subjective as, say, people’s favourite songs. Just as one person’s ‘Stairway to Heaven’ might be another’s ‘Birdie Song’, so one person’s call for controlled migration is another’s idea of a Nuremberg speech.

Maybe you think we should open the borders, or maybe you think we should turn the boats back. The point is, both opinions (and all in between) have exactly the same right to be aired on the streets, on campuses and, yes, even on Facebook.

Believing in free speech means that everyone, whether they are a member of PEGIDA or Unite Against Fascism, should be entitled to express their view. They should also be prepared to be heavily criticised for their opinions. But they should not be silenced because a government, or a tech billionaire, disagrees with them.

In a truly free society there would be no ‘protected groups’ and there would be no bans on ‘hate speech’. Just because you approve of who the iron fist is punching today does not mean you are protected from receiving a ferrous uppercut tomorrow.

Guy Birchall is a writer based in London.

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