It's hard to know where to start with this. Internal Facebook documents confirm that the company "whitelists" powerful establishment people and permits them to post anything on the platform without censorship, while "normal" users are monitored, censored, and punished for "unacceptable" speech. This is possibly the most unAmerican business practice I can think of. Special speech rights for powerful, famous, rich people, and limited speech rights for everyone else. Disgusting and shameful.

The program, known as "cross check" or "XCheck," was initially intended as a quality-control measure for actions taken against high-profile accounts, including celebrities, politicians and journalists. Today, it shields millions of VIP users from the company's normal enforcement process, the documents show. Some users are "whitelisted"--rendered immune from enforcement actions--while others are allowed to post rule-violating material pending Facebook employee reviews that often never come. [...]

For ordinary users, Facebook dispenses a kind of rough justice in assessing whether posts meet the company's rules against bullying, sexual content, hate speech and incitement to violence. Sometimes the company's automated systems summarily delete or bury content suspected of rule violations without a human review. At other times, material flagged by those systems or by users is assessed by content moderators employed by outside companies.

Regardless of its profitability, Facebook is a national disgrace.

The company agonizes to an absurd degree over how its services are used and by whom -- an agony that telephone, electric, water, and trash-collection companies seem to manage just fine without.

Facebook's stated ambition has long been to connect people. As it expanded over the past 17 years, from Harvard undergraduates to billions of global users, it struggled with the messy reality of bringing together disparate voices with different motivations--from people wishing each other happy birthday to Mexican drug cartels conducting business on the platform. Those problems increasingly consume the company.

Time and again, the documents show, in the U.S. and overseas, Facebook's own researchers have identified the platform's ill effects, in areas including teen mental health, political discourse and human trafficking. Time and again, despite congressional hearings, its own pledges and numerous media exposés, the company didn't fix them.

Obviously all good people are united against drug cartels, teen depression and anxiety, and human trafficking -- but Facebook is no more an enabler of these ills than are the electric or telephone companies. In their absurd compulsion to lock out bad users, Facebook is shamefully restricting the free speech rights of all people everywhere in the world.

Human civilization needs to change how we see social media and internet communication more broadly -- it's a utility that should be required to serve all comers. We shouldn't burden these services with the moral responsibility to discriminate between good and evil, and the services shouldn't take that responsibility on themselves. Leave that burden to the People and their elected representatives, as protected by the Constitution and our God-given rights and dignity.

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