Campaign for censorship of Facebook content intensifies following January 6 disclosures | #socialmedia | #education | #technology | #infosec


The drive for government regulation and control of Facebook content intensified last weekend following the publication of details about the social media company’s internal response to the right-wing coup attempt of January 6 in Washington D.C.

Mark Zuckerberg, chairman and CEO of Facebook, speaks at the CEO summit during the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum in Lima, Peru, Nov. 19, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Through a series of media reports—based on company documents disclosed by Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen to the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) and provided in redacted form to the US Congress and a consortium of news organizations—a campaign is being mounted that says the social media company enabled the fascist assault on the US Capitol and, therefore, must be “reined in.”

While the growing campaign to regulate Facebook is being framed as a necessary response to far-right extremism and those who plotted the January 6th coup attempt, the reality is that online censorship has consistently been used to throttle and ban the circulation of left-wing and socialist political views online.

The origins of the present campaign go back to early 2017 when a program of internet censorship was rolled out, on the basis of unproven assertions by the US intelligence community that Russia had meddled in the 2016 presidential elections by spreading “divisive views” online, targeting progressive and socialist websites and publishers.

In the course of this censorship campaign, for example, Google admitted to demoting content from the in search results, Facebook banned the accounts of writers and editors of the World Socialist Web Site and censored pages of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality. In February, Facebook blocked its users from sharing the WSWS Perspective “Washington Post’s ‘Wuhan Lab’ conspiracy theory stands exposed.”

Last Friday, in an article entitled “Inside Facebook, Jan. 6 violence fueled anger, regret over missed warning signs,” the Washington Post made the claim that the trove of leaked Facebook documents “provides new details of the social media platform’s role in fomenting the storming of the US Capitol.”

The Post article—part of a series entitled “Facebook Under Fire”— said that the documents from Haugen along with “others independently obtained” and from “interviews with current and former Facebook employees,” show that the social media platform “helped fuel that day’s mayhem.”

A similar article in the New York Times on Friday said, “The disclosures from Ms. Haugen … have resurfaced questions about what role Facebook played in the events leading up to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.” Another report on NPR claimed, “Facebook failed to curb the proliferation of the Stop the Steal movement. … In its internal report, Facebook acknowledged something striking: It ‘helped incite the Capitol Insurrection’ on Jan. 6.”


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