On Saturday, co-founder of the Free Thought Project, Jason Bassler logged onto Facebook like he does every morning. This time, however, he hit one of their notoriously loathed checkpoint screens informing him that he has been banned from using Facebook for 30 days. His “crime”? Sharing a photo of E.T. which the social media platform determined was “hate speech.”
The photo in question was a joke. It was a screen grab from the movie E.T. which showed the moment Elliot was separated from his alien friend E.T. It had the caption, “Actual photo of a child being separated from his illegal alien.” It was meant to show the ridiculous nature of calling people who are seeking a better life, “illegal” and had no mal intent whatsoever.
It was nothing more than a joke and targeted no group, race, religion, or individual. However, because Facebook picks certain groups to demonize and censor, the post was removed and Bassler banned.
Normally, when Facebook issues a ban hammer, there is a chance to appeal it. This time, however, Facebook decided that Bassler could not appeal it.
Naturally, our staff was quite upset over seeing such a harmless photo get flagged as hate speech and resulting in the silencing our co-founder for thirty days. To illustrate just how insidious this ban was, we decided to collect a series of posts and pages who actually promote hate and divide and remain in place with some of them reaching millions of people.
Last week, the media outlet The Root shared an article to Facebook called “White People are Cowards.” The first paragraph of the article compares white people to cockroaches, and stereotypes an entire group of people as being complicit in racism.
Aside from the glaring offensive statement of calling all white people cowards and comparing them to cockroaches, the article is actually a good piece on how remaining silent in the face of injustice is nearly the same as participating in it. This is a theme that the Free Thought Project constantly injects into the narrative as it is important.
However, one would think that making derogatory remarks about entire races and comparing entire races to cockroaches would likely result in a ban, right? After all, a photo of E.T. got a person banned for thirty days. Surely, those pushing such divisive rhetoric would find themselves on the receiving end of Facebook’s ban hammer, right? Wrong.
Not only did The Root not get banned, but that article was given a golden boost by the Facebook algorithm and it received over 10,000 interactions and nearly 7,000 shares reaching millions of people along the way.
What gives? If a photo of E.T. is hate speech, inciting hate toward white people by calling them all cowards and cockroaches in an article certainly should be as well. But this is not the case.
Do not mistake this as a call for The Root or anyone else for that matter to be banned. Banning different viewpoints only serves to limit one’s exposure to different ideas, creating thought tunnels that push more divide. And, this is clearly what we see happening right now on Facebook.
Those of us who attempt to bridge the divide by calling out the hypocrisy on both the left and the right are pigeonholed into oblivion by algorithms designed to keep people on their side of political aisle—making sure no peaceful interactions are had. Vitriol on the left is allowed to pass through Facebook’s algorithm just like vitriol on the right. Case in point in the screen shots below:
In the posts above, these Facebook users not only call an entire religion evil, but they advocate killing people—an actual criminal act. The post on the bottom has been up since 2015 and Scott Smalley is likely still spewing hatred.
But there is more. Facebook allows white people to spew hatred against black people too.
If Facebook doesn’t care about a group of people defining and entire race of people as cowards or evil, certainly they don’t care about someone advocating for the slaughter of an entire race or religion. So what are their algorithms doing if they aren’t stopping calls for violence and hatred?
Perhaps if these hateful people used a photo of E.T. then maybe they would have been banned.
It is important to hammer home the point that the idea here is not to advocate the silencing of others. Those who advocate to have their opposition silenced are implying that their ideas alone aren’t strong enough to win out in a public forum.
Hateful idiots don’t need to be banned or silenced. Their idiocy alone is enough to discredit them. Let them speak up and remove all doubt of their credibility on their own.
This brings us back to Mr. Bassler’s ban for sharing a picture of E.T. As illustrated in the multiple examples above, Facebook couldn’t care less about stopping the spread of prejudice and hate. In fact, their algorithm seems to favor it.
However, if you attempt to put out a rational world view of peace and liberty for all races, religions, and nationalities, you are immediately silenced.
Peaceful ideas appear to be the enemy of the algorithm. Calling out government corruption appears to be an enemy to the algorithm. Pointing out the racist nature of the drug war is an enemy to the algorithm. Fun loving jokes to show the ridiculous nature of calling people “illegal aliens” because they seek a better life for their family is an enemy to the algorithm.
Unless something changes and people realize how they are being manipulated by these algorithms into hating each other, we can only expect this problem to get worse. Please share this article with your friends and family so that they may see just how insidious this platform has become.