I'm certain Facebook had no idea what it was doing when it banned my 9/11 memorial post. Suddenly I started looking into others who claimed unfair and unreasonable censorship, people I had previously ignored. Contrary to what I had been led to believe, I have yet to find anything extremist, evil, hateful, or even particularly objectionable—certainly nothing as egregious as other offenses that Facebook seems to have no problem with. What I've seen has been at worst annoying. Of course I find things I disagree with (what else is new?) but also a lot that is interesting, reasonable, and fits with the world as I know it. Nothing, that is, that could justify Facebook's censorship.

I doubt that Facebook's intent in banning certain content was to inspire me to investigate that content, but that's not an unusual reaction. Ban a book or a movie and you generate interest in what would probably have died an ignoble death on its own. Were it not that platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and such are so massive, and virtual monopolies, I would be less concerned.

Here's just one example. Even if the following video were not about censorship, it would be amazing, as I have never before been fascinated by legal language.

David Freiheit is a Canadian lawyer who gave up litigation for full-time video commentary on current issues from a legal standpoint. From what little I've seen of his YouTube channel, his style is a little on the crazy side, but he makes legal issues and legal documents interesting, which qualifies him as a miracle worker as far as I'm concerned.

Two things particularly struck me in watching this. The first is that I had no idea how lucrative Facebook advertising can be—the advertising that I generally ignore. For me, Facebook is a place for communicating with family—or friends, since most of my family has now deserted the platform—and I ignore the larger picture. But there's another world out there, a world of high finance, a world where there are worse consequences for offending the Facebook gods than having your post deleted. Can you even imagine a world where Facebook can demonetize your post, which takes away the percentage of ad revenue that you normally receive, and thus cost you over a million dollars a month?

Secondly, I was unaware of the practice of not just cutting off, but actually stealing that ad revenue. If I have an ad-revenue contract with Facebook, and they delete my post, I merely lose the income. But if they leave the post up, and merely demonetize it, they can still run ads—but Facebook (YouTube, whatever) gets all the revenue, rather than having to share it with the content provider. In other words, by determining that your content is somehow "wrong" they can take for themselves all the ad revenue the post generates.

This is from my understanding of the process, not from the video below. What the video adds is the idea that the "independent fact checkers," in determining that a post is "false," themselves benefit by doing so, since they can include links to their own content and funnel income from the original content poster to themselves, which is a huge conflict of interest and a positive incentive to label something as false. I get that one would want to be able to click to the reasoning behind such a label, but at the very least the fact-checkers should not profit from it. Anyway, if you have 23 minutes and are curious as to how legalese can possibly be interesting, here it is.

Posted by sursumcorda on Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 7:10 am | Edit
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Okay, I'm stunned. You've caught me flat-footed with this one. To the extent that I'm speechless, shaking my head in disbelief. The only words is my head: "What IS this world coming to?"

Posted by Grace Kone on Sunday, November 29, 2020 at 11:46 am
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