FACEBOOK INCITES VIOLENCE AND TERRORISM
Several days ago I encountered this post (see below) on Facebook. The person who put up this post is a Ukrainian. The post called upon Russians to commit terrorist acts against innocent people who happen to be employed by the Russian government. I found this post dangerous, disgusting, and contradicting the community standards established and enforced by those who run Facebook.
Here is what the post says:
A FELLOW KILLED AN INDIVIDUAL WHO WORKED AT AN ENLISTMENT CENTER IN IRKUTSK.
HERE IS A COMMENTARY FROM A LAWYER:
GOOD BOY! HE WILL GET ONLY 8 YEARS. HE WILL SERVE 3-4 YEARS. DUE TO THE NATURE OF HIS CRIME, HE WILL BE MUCH RESPECTED IN PRISON; HE WILL BE CONSIDERED AS SOMEONE VERY IMPORTANT.
THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO REMEMBER IS THAT IF YOU DECIDE TO COMMIT A SIMILAR ACT, YOU SHOULD ACT ALONE; DO NOT TRY TO ORGANIZE A GROUP. FIND YOUR OWN OFFICIAL TO KILL.
LIFE HACK: IT IS BETTER NOT TO DO YOUR KILLING AT AN ENLISTMENT CENTER; YOU SHOULD FOLLOW YOUR VICTIM HOME AFTER WORK AND KILL HIM IN HIS NEIGHBORHOOD. IN THIS CASE UNDER ARTICLE 105.1 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE, YOU WILL GET ONLY 6 YEARS IN JAIL (YOU WILL BE RELEASED AFTER 2 YEARS).
AND YOU WILL NOT HAVE TO DEAL SUBJECTED TO A DRUNKEN MEAT GRINDING SESSION AT THE POLICE STATION.
If this post is not an incitement to violence and terrorism I do not know what is.
Upon reading this post, I immediately reported it to Facebook as an incitement to violence. There was no response. I reported this post two more times—one as “incitement to violence” and another as “incitement to commit terrorist acts.” Again, Facebook did not respond. Finally I got my response from the Facebook team that informed me that there was nothing in this post that was against the standard of the Facebook community. Here is the response from Facebook: Thanks for your feedback.
Thanks for letting us know about this. The post was reviewed, and though IT DOESN’T GO AGAINST ONE OF OUR SPECIFIC COMMUNITY STANDARDS, you did the right thing by letting us know about it. We understand that it may still be offensive or distasteful to you, so we want to help you see less of things like it in the future.
The Facebook team has recommended that I should block the author. In other words, I will stop seeing posts from him but others will continue to be exposed to his calls for violence and terrorism. What a solution!
I know many common Americans who use Facebook and who have been censored by Facebook for much milder offenses. Facebook silenced them for days and even months. Yet in this case, Facebook has displayed an obvious bias. By refusing to remove this post and punish the offender, Facebook has knowingly and willingly chosen to condone, abet, and encourage violence and terrorism
There are two issues that are relevant to this case. First of all, incitement to violence and terrorism is legally an offense. This post has been shared and seen by many people. Since the murder in Irkutsk, there have been several other attacks in and around draft offices in Russia against people who happen to work at these offices. This post may have provoked these other attacks and Facebook may certainly play a role of the accessory in these crimes.
But there is another issue and more important one. Facebook is not your ordinary company. It sells itself as a company that acts in public interest—a status that entails special privileges. This case shows that Facebook is no different than any other publishing company, if only worse. Under the guise of public benefit, it engages in manipulating and directing public opinion; and it does it for one reason—the promotion of the political agenda of those who manage this company. It is time to review the special status of Facebook.
Dr. Gennady Shkliarevsky is Professor Emeritus of History at Bard College.