Zuckerberg challenged to a duel, over censorship, of words
February 13, 2012
I recently made a post to my Facebook profile that was promptly un-posted, by Facebook. Whether it was a human, a flagger, an algorithm, or a silver unicorn with an impaled tiger on its horn, bellowing more loudly than a blue whale, at the Sunrise, from a mountaintop, underwater, in space – it doesn’t matter. All that matters is the post was deleted.
The only word I got for that is censorship.
It’s been real, Facebook, but I’m done for a while. I won’t do the account de- and re-activation dance; I’ll just stop commenting.
Facebook, I give you consistently good content, and in return, you spam me with ads for Wal-Mart. I don’t care if Jim Phillips “liked” Wal Mart. I’ve never been inside one. I’ll keep it that way.
Have you heard about Google+? (Circle me!) It’s this cool new social network where adults can interact, and talk about things other than Jersey shore.
Yeah, I did go there. Mark Zuckerberg, I challenge you to a duel. I’m calling you out. It’s already 15-love, and I don’t even see you on the court, man. Where you at?
Facebook, you’ve been demoted to sub-MySpace. You got stuck with the wrong crowd of people at the party. Censorship ain’t sexy, and your squirrel metaphor is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Zuck, too bad about how Google is stealing your social network. Good thing you’ve got that amazing, industry leading, powerful search algorithm to fall back on.
No, you don’t.
Your search algorithm is weak, Suckerberg!
I recently took intro criminal law (B+) at law school (Seattle U), and the content of the censored post (pictured below) offers a great example of the theory of punishment proportionality, with a special spotlight on the military court martial system.
The content of my censored post highlights deep, challenging philosophical questions.
A man who hacked computers and leaked sensitive information is lucky to escape the death penalty, while another man, who pleaded guilty to directly engineering, and then participating in, the brutal massacring innocent women, children, elderly, and handicapped people, will do no time in prison.
I’m aware that war is harsh. Things are scary, there are lots of loud noises and bright lights, and you also might die. I even understand that plainclothes civillians may have been fighting; it had to be hard to tell the difference between hostiles and neutrals.
But I’ve played Call of Duty. I know a thing or two about how to move through a building. I’ve done paintball. I’m aware of how things work. Every video game has innocent people that pop up. It’s usually someone, they’ve got their hands in the air, they’re wearing some regular looking clothes, and really, they just don’t want to die. If you send them to the afterlife, you lose points. Kill the enemy, you get points. Simple.
So when you shoot not one, not two, nor three, nor ten, nor twenty, but 24 innocent civilians (which to you, might as well be blank cardboard cutouts that read “Civilian”), the fact of the matter is that, uh, ya kinda messed up.
Over and over. Over and over and over.
You paused, you caught your breath, maybe thought of a time when things were calmer, like when you were drinking a beer.
Then you collected yourself, brushed off the dust, and began making the same mistake.
Again, again, again, again, and again and again and again and again.
Your judgement can no longer be trusted as a human being.
That we imprison users of a substance as safe as Tylenol – Marijuana – and not savage, trained, merciless, mass murdering, convicted spillers of the blood of the innocent, makes me a bit concerned for society, and, uh, also a little bit my safety. At best, to this guy, I’m just a white cardboard cutout on which to make mistakes.
Plenty of other cases present a similarly uncomfortable contrast, and as a person who’s concerned with internet openness, the Bradley Manning situation makes a great example for a lack of punishment proportionality.
But none of those thoughts need to come out.
Pay no attention to this discussion, Mark Zuckerburg tells us. “All you Facebook users, you’re all dumb fucks,” said Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, in 2010 (paraphrasing, fairly). Obviously, Zuck thinks were too dumb to be allowed to discuss these very real issues on our shared microblogging service, known affectionately by some as “The FBs.” Perhaps Suckerberg should just do all our thinking for us.
Individual bloggers have more right to censor their own blogs. I have a justifiable right to censor this blog’s comments, just like I can censor my Facebook profile. Wordpress can’t come in and censor my site. Facebook can’t either. Having facilitated the exchange of information in no way entitles that facilitator to ownership, control, or the ability to censor that information.
The censored image continues to remain missing from my profile.
In his own words, Zuck is “Trying to make the world a more open place.” In the interest of contrast, here is solid evidence that Zuckerberg’s company censored me.
Zuck, I feel like it’s only fair to provide a disclaimer – this is my corner of the blogosphere. That’s my content. You can’t touch this.
I’ve done this before, where I’ve challenged some fool to a blogosphere duel, and it was a shocking spectacle for the crowd. I found Andrew Spillane, and I pounced on him like a jaguar, only to whisper poetry in his ear, then dashing away into the dark, wild, blogosphorests.
Imagine a dump truck full of rainbow colored beanie babies being emptied into a wood chipper, and jetted into the air, with weird, cotton-ey foam floating back down to Earth, like hydrocarbon snow. And that was just the first paragraph from my previous duel.
Zuck, consider yourself disclaimed.
Reasoning behind the duel challenge
Zuck, this begins as a defense, because, of course, I wouldn’t be challenging you without a reason.
Fact: You censored me.
Acting within my rights, I posted content to a web page to which I have exclusive legal right.
You own the bank accounts associated with the URL – your prize for being both prepared, and lucky.
Users own their profiles. Users have the right to post content to their profiles, and no one can take it down. Not me, not the person who collects the ad revenue from the URL, not the old cat lady next door, not the Feds, not anyone. Our profiles are our microblogs, and no one has a right to alter or censor our content.
I believe that uncensored internet access is a human right, and I’m passing a constitutional amendment to solidify that right.
I see this as an extension of the free speech amendment, as it affirms that sharing information is, indeed, speech.
I understand that community guidelines don’t necessarily mean censorship. I’m glad there’s no overly graphic violence, no kiddie porn, no hate speech, no yelling fire in crowded theaters, and no releasing military documents to terrorists.
But mistake this not: there can be no censorship.
Zuck, there ought not be a thing more sacrosanct than the freedom of information; a right of mine that you trampled, by using your “right by fact” to censor me. Yes, you can censor. No, you don’t have the right to censor.
The cavalier attitude of censor first, ask questions later is quite scary. It’s like saying Beetlejuice. Keep repeating it, and you’ll find that evil is released into the world. You’ll get into mistaken wars. Kill more innocent people. Just keep saying it Zuck, that’s all it takes.
All other human rights build up to the right not to be censored online.
I actually don’t give a fuck that Facebook censored me, let me make that point vulgarly clear. It’s about the principle.
It doesn’t matter what you censored, it just matters that you did it. I had to figure it out, and decide for myself that it was censorship, but that’s the conclusion I’ve come to, without discussing it with anyone. Just based on the evidence. I don’t need someone to come in and tell me what I know.
I know your deletion of my wall post isn’t the end of the world for anyone, but I’m picking on you, Zuck, because you’re the squirrel in my front yard. I know that in terms of censorship, there are people suffering all over the world, but you, Zuck, you’re the one that affects my life. Hence, you got yourself challenged to a duel (of words).
There are people all over the world who don’t know they’re censored. Few, if any, of them can do a thing about it. I’m in the extreme minority of the world’s silenced masses (censored to one degree or another), in that I have other avenues to announce that censorship to the world. I speak on behalf of all of them when I demand respect for the human right to uncensored internet access.
Just because I’m relatively wealthy in avenues of self-expression doesn’t mean I’m made of them. I’m now one publishing service closer to true, forced silence. What example are you setting for Twitter? If WordPress decides to do the same thing – say, if blog posts with certain keywords lead to an automated site shutdown – then I’m just as out of luck as anyone else dying in the world, eclipsed by the exalted “squirrel of relevance.” If that happens in the future, what, would I go post about it on Facebook?
Zuck, I know you’ve heard Eli Pariser’s thoughts on relevance, but his point is dead on – don’t forget it. As leaders, we have to walk a delicate balance between giving people what they want, and what they need, as decided by people who know what’s out there, and are, I suppose, arrogant enough to try to force it on the rest of humanity.
Some may think he’s a douche, but Everett Bogue is right about one thing – attention is the world’s most valuable resource.
Facebook controls attention the way electric utility monopolies once controlled the energy markets. Facebook can’t be allowed to stifle the content users post to its servers. Most people certainly are interested in the dying squirrel in their front yard, but crucial unknown unknowns (like the EEA, HR 3166, something all Americans must know about, absolutely the most dangerous legislation ever proposed in US history) are often ignored under the squirrel/Zuckerberg model.
Report Card: sub par
At this point, Zuck, you are in hypocrisy FAIL zone. You can get some points by responding, you can get some points by pledging that it won’t happen again, but until you start making positive steps in the right direction, you’re going to stay pretty deep in openness FAIL territory.
I consider what I wrote on Facbeook to be poetry. I attach myself to the content I write. It is me.
Facebook is an amazing place to practice writing. Facebook has given a new voice to everyone. We can share information like never before. It’s like a big rock music festival, and Facebook owns the land.
Zuck, you own the URL, and because of that, you have access to the bank account, but that’s it. It’s just money. Don’t corrupt the one good thing Facebook has going for it – user content.
At this point, there are two scenarios. One, you think that having money means you can censor me. Wrong. Or two, someone else is forcing you to do it. Also wrong. You are independent. That’s why the internet’s so great. When you’re good at it, no one can boss you.
The internet is a very real, large part of the online collective human consciousness. The internet, and the collective awareness of all life on Earth, are deeply connected.
I call this Pythagoreanism. I don’t do monotheism, and I’m tired of revolutions. It has to be an evolution. We literally have to evolve, as a species, in the way we collectively understand information.
Future of the blogosphere
Nothing is more important than the flow of information.
Information flows according only to the way we organize it. Trust me, the blogosphere isn’t even done being started yet. Not even a hundredth. I really believe that the next step of the blogosphere is going to involve users being able to personalize their search filters.
Rather than being spoonfed Google’s definition of relevance, users would be able make their own search engines, just like they can make blogs today on Tumblr or Blogger. It would be possible for an individual blogger to manually tag select parts of the internet, on their own, and assign certain tags, all for anyone who cares to follow. Those tags would then be searchable, and each micro-search engine would yield different results for similar queries.
This is already happening today in tiny forms, but nowhere near the scale we’ll have in the future. Rather than applying a single tag (For example, the “Like”) to a smaller amount of content, users could even be paid to carefully tag enormous databases. The same grassroots, crowdsource-type dynamics at play in the blogosphere would be applied to the way we search for, and share, information.
Think of the immediately above idea as a bit of highly targeted science fiction, challenging you, your colleagues, and anyone else who thinks they’re hot stuff in Sil-Val, to step up your game. We need much more nuanced perspectives on relevancy, and Eli Pariser is a great place to start.
I’d post about this on Facebook, but that would be like sleeping with a girl to really show her how serious I was about breaking up.
To my friends on Facebook, Circle me on Google+ to keep in touch, I’ll be posting all my spontaneous witticisms over on G+, where not only have I not yet been censored, but I even get paid to post content!
Zuck, I may not have a Googleplexian stock options, or $5b, but we do have one thing in common. Coding, in one language or another, at the laptop, all day, and all through the night, is the way we support ourselves. With that, I’m learning, comes an independence – don’t let go of it.
Don’t let anyone boss you on censorship.
Be true to your word.
Please re-tweet this!