I am, unabashedly, a tyrant when it it comes to upholding the right to express and freedom of information.
But I am not a perfect liberal: I equally abhor the application of the same right to those holding hateful sentiments: homophobes, Islamophobes, Holocaust deniers, anti-Semitics, racists and xenophobes.
The reasoning runs as follows: if a platform is provided for hate speech it will reach a wider audience; in turn, the message of hate is promulgated further.
On this point I find Facebook particularly distasteful – not because it fully allows freedom of expression in all its beauty and hideousness, but rather it is selective.
Mention ‘nakba’ or ‘intifada’ and the page will be removed; establish an Islamophobic page and it will be attended by 11,000 members and rest online gathering hate.
Until now Facebook seemed to reserve it’s touch of censorship to all matters Palestine-related (2010 proved a land-mark year); today, it granted amnesty to Holocaust deniers:
In a personal plea made by 21 Holocaust survivors earlier this month, social media giant Facebook has been asked to refuse access to anyone wanting to use the site to promote Holocaust denial.
Meanwhile, Facebook officials, citing free speech, have refused the survivors’ emotional appeal.
“We think it’s important to maintain consistency in our policies, which don’t generally prohibit people from making statements about historical events,” said a Facebook spokesman. “No matter how ignorant the statement or how awful the event.” [Source]
Both actions are despicable: the proliferation of hate pages and groups must be curbed (at least) or banned (at best).
And it is not just religiously-based: there currently exists an Italian page calling for ‘the removal of the south of Italy […] cut it off like the cancer it is and send it back to Africa, where it belongs.’
Amidst the flurry of discussions the language is ripe and the vitriol scalding.
Hate forums will continue to sprout online, but a social network such as Facebook holds the power to prevent the promulgation of such ideologies.
That it chooses not to (or worse, selectively does so) it all the more vile.