Recently, some idiot started whining about a conspiracy theory to shut down his freedom of speech on Facebook. Let me be clear – I vaguely know about this guy from other people but I’ve never followed him, barely read him and know nothing really about him. In short, I’m staying ignorant about it but for a good reason.
The ironically named, Low Genius, claims that “liberal” sites have conspired to shut down his Facebook page. Except it’s not shut down. His account got a thirty day ban. I’m not exactly sure why nor do I really care. I recently came off a seven day ban. My next ban, should it come, will be thirty days. Yes, it’s a pain in the ass but it’s the price you pay for voicing your varnished and unvarnished opinions. (I got a twenty-four hour ban for non-hyperbolically saying, “I disagree with you”. Srsly.) I’m sure this happens on left-leaning pages, too, but many extreme right pages will cut off your ability to comment if you voice opposition to them or correct an outright lie. Many politically motivated people use the report button on Facebook as a weapon. It’s not right and I’m in no way defending this, having been on the other end of it.
Let’s take a moment to get some definitions correct.
A “site” refers to a website that you personally own and operate. You pay a service provider money. You admin your site. It belong wholly to you. You are the king of it.
A “blog” refers to a blogging service such as WordPress.com or blogger.com. These are free services although you can upgrade your service for a fee. The big point is that you are not in control of the service. You sign a terms-of-service agreement and that leaves you vulnerable to those who may disagree with what you post. Piss enough people off and you’ll get booted. This happens neo-Nazi and jihadist sites. It also happened to Baptists For Brownback, one of the funniest satire sites that I’ve ever read.
A “page” refers to a Facebook page (or Google+ page, if you swing that way). This is a free service. You sign a terms-of-service agreement and that leaves you vulnerable to those who may disagree with what you post. Piss enough people off and you’ll get booted. The big danger on Facebook is when you comment on other pages. Get some fanatic who thinks you’re Satan incarnate for calling him an idiot and it’s pretty simple for him/her to take revenge by reporting you. I honestly don’t know what the rules for timeouts are. I know that I’ve been through several of them and, honestly, I’ve deserved a few of them.
I said that I don’t know anything about Low Genius except what he told me. The biggest fallacy he operates under (outside of his page being taken down…it’s not…he just can’t post to it) is that Facebook is a website. In one of the numerous emails he sent to me, he tried to make that case that his page being down (aka: not being able to post) or having his comments removed from opposition pages is the same thing as a service provider removing content from someone’s website. It’s a cute argument and, if you take away the part where it’s free and you signed a terms-of-service agreement that puts you at the mercy of Facebook and those who moderate it, it might work. But…it’s free and you signed a terms-of-service agreement that puts you at the mercy of Facebook and those who moderate it.
Rightly or wrongly, Facebook doesn’t give a shit about your “free speech” nor does it have to. When you sign up for Facebook, you’re signing your right to free speech away. That’s not to say you can’t say whatever you want. You can. But if it gets taken down because someone reported you, you don’t get to whine about censorship. Why? Because when you sign up for Facebook, you’re signing your right to free speech away. Facebook is a business. It’s not America. Facebook dictates the rules to you and doesn’t care if you don’t like them. The best you can do in that circumstance is to get a hold of Facebook and plead your case. In Low Genius’ case, it’s that there is an evil cabal of liberals that are OUT TO DESTROY HIM AND TAKE AWAY HIS FREE SPEECH.
I hope I’ve written this well enough for you to see where it’s going.
Low Genius’ free speech has not been taken away. He still has it. Granted, for the next thirty days, he can’t use Facebook as a soapbox. He might, however, use his Google+ account…or his website…or MySpace…or Reddit or any number of other services that allow communications with other people. Put another way – John Henry is not in a dark dungeon somewhere with a blindfold and ballgag in his mouth.
I don’t need to know the topic or political bent of John Henry because it’s not important. The Facebook TOS governs Facebook. If you don’t like it, get off of Facebook. But don’t whine about your free speech getting taken away when you’re not paying for the service to begin with.
IRONIC POSTSCRIPT – Early this morning, I posted on John Henry’s Google+ account. In the process of checking the address for it I found out that (and I hope you’re sitting down) he’s blocked my access to it. HE’S STIFLING MY FREE SPEECH!!!