First, they came for the anti-vaccine movement

Remember when the web was an open space in which you could say what you wanted to say? That web is being asphyxiated by a small handful of corporations. Most people are happy to use Facebook or a similar service, thereby surrendering their independence. These services are free, but only if users abide by the rules of Silicon Valley.

Big Tech colluded to penalise American conservatives on Facebook and Twitter, then they banned Alex Jones and now they have announced that they’ll remove any posts about vaccinations that are deemed to be misinformation. Who else will be de-platformed?

Facebook says

  • It’ll no longer allow ads “that include misinformation about vaccinations”
  • Advertisers will no longer be able to target adverts at people interested in topics like ‘vaccine controversies’
  • Pages and groups that spread lies and hoaxes about vaccines won’t show up in searches or recommendations
  • Anti-vaxxer content will no longer show up on Instagram’s Explore section or its hashtag pages.

This is the electronic equivalent of allowing a protest, but only if the group is 6 people or smaller, and even then, the protesters must agree to only communicate via whispers. Nobody will feel sorry for the anti-vaccination groups, but the shadow-bans and search rank demoting won’t stop there.

The anti-vaccine movement is an easy target. The media will cite the fact that Andrew Wakefield’s 1998 study was widely discredited and that’ll be the end. What happens when the topic changes and suddenly pesticides are being blamed for autism, or children born without limbs? Presumably, the agricultural giants will go to Silicon Valley and kindly ask Facebook to delete any misinformation about Round-Up. quote.

“We are exploring ways to give people more accurate information from expert organisations about vaccines at the top of results for related searches, on pages discussing the topic, and on invitations to join groups about the topic,” said Ms Bickert. “We will have an update on this soon.”

Newshub end quote.

If Facebook doesn’t like your political opinions, they’ll slow the growth of your group and ask you to join another group, full of your enemies, in the hope that you will be converted to a different perspective. Is it Facebook’s job to give science lessons? I bet this move will explode in Facebook’s face and sink their share value to new lows.

If any criticism of a government or corporation can be shut down, and the users informed that they’re wrong, then the web is corrupted. When those in power are free to define what misinformation is, the definition is wide.

The US Department of State once listed depleted uranium as a conspiracy theory and said that the US does not hire economic hit men to sabotage nations that defy the US. That’s from the same Department of State that once featured Condoleezza Rice and the conspiracy theory of Saddam’s Weapons of Mass Destruction. The message is simple: spread as much misinformation as you wish and promote unlimited stupid conspiracies, but only if you work for CNN or the Pentagon or the Department of State. The censorship rules only apply to ordinary people.

Finally, why do people who complain about Facebook censorship still use Facebook? If you’re getting 3-day bans several times a year just for posting mildly offensive jokes then it’s time to move platform. There’s nothing special about Facebook. It’s just a message board system with a private message feature and notifications. Anyone with minor technical knowledge can install similar software and host a server for $5 or $10 a month.

phpBB and Simple Machines Forum cost nothing to install, they require no banner ads, and yet they have more advanced features than the Trade Me Forum. Who needs Silicon Valley? The internet will continue to function in the absence of Microsoft, Amazon, Apple, Google or Facebook. Nobody truly needs these tech companies; their services are nothing but short term convenience.

Will Facebook’s growing persona non grata list finally spur the creation of a new web? One that’s free of censorship, collusion and corporate ownership?