Facebook is under fire this week after it was discovered that the company has allowed Rose City Antifa, a violent group associated with riots for many years, to maintain a Facebook page despite the company’s controversial program to take down certain sites. As will come as no surprise to many on this blog, I would not have the page taken down on free speech grounds. My greatest fear is not Antifa (which I have criticized for years) but the growing censorship of the Internet. While I recently testified about Antifa, and specifically Rose City Antifa, as part of a violent anti-free speech movement, I have opposed declaring them terrorist organizations and believe that their speech should be protected. While Facebook is a private company not subject to the First Amendment’s limits, it should adhere to free speech values on the Internet.
RCA is arguably the oldest Antifa group in the United States and was founded in Portland. In 2013, various groups that were part of The Anti-Racist Action Network (ARA), including RCA, formed a new coordinating organization referred to as the “Torch Network.” This lack of structure not only appealed to the anarchist elements in the movement but served the practical benefit of evading law enforcement and lawsuits. While some have attempted to hold such members accountable, like journalist Andy Ngo who sued RCA for assaulting him, such lawsuits struggle with finding witnesses and assets for an effective case.
Under Facebook’s “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy” the company pledged to “address organizations and movements that have demonstrated significant risks to public safety.” It has removed a number of far right and far left groups.
We have previously discussed how governments and politicians have demanded greater and greater censorship of the Internet, which is the greatest vehicle of free speech ever developed. The erosion of free speech on social media and the Internet includes calls from leading Democratic leaders for years to implement private censorship of political speech, a view supported by academics who have declared that “China was right” about censorship. Recently, Democratic Nominee Joe Biden pushed for censoring statements by Trump and others opposing mail-in voting.
My views of free speech are well known. RCA is an extremist group but it also engages in protected speech. We need to criminally address its conduct, not its speech. It is the difference between advocating violence and acting violently. If the site is actively arranging attacks or directing riotings, it is more than just speech. It generally does not do that. It calls for counter demonstrations on such sites but leaves the violent elements to local members. Once you start censoring such sites for the actions of some members, it puts the Internet on a slippery slope of speech regulation. Many organizations, including Black Lives Matter, have had violent followers but there are still important parts of a non-violent debate over issues like racial justice.
However, there is another reason why these pages should not be censored. It is far better to have such groups operating openly where they can be monitored. We saw in Germany that suppressing neo-Nazi groups just forced them underground while doing little to deter their expansion. It is better for law enforcement and others to have these groups more visible. On Facebook, these groups can be challenged and their extreme views exposed. When forced underground, the groups claim that they are victims of “fascists” and their hateful views grow unimpeded in radical echo-chambers.
Antifa is arguably the most successful anti-free speech movement in modern history. It has the direct or indirect support of some academics and many students. Indeed, the recent controversy over statements made by a Connecticut professor and a Rhode Island professor on the killing of a conservative counter protester reflects how such views are become more common. Some of these individuals oppose the free speech protections that we afforded them, at least when extended to those with opposing views. However, they are the price of true free speech.
222 thoughts on “Facebook Under Fire For Keeping Antifa Page While Eliminating Far-Right Groups”
Antifa is one of the most fascist organizations in the US. Basically their brand of fascism is all good w/Mort so they let it stand.
FB has already said they will be removing any and all content for any reason starting found Oct. As FB has plenty of government contracts they may not claim they are not subject to the First Amendment. The USG should no tolerate this, however, there is some evidence that USG is involved w/Antifa. So there you go.
Get off that platform (and others like it) quickly and inform others where to find your content.
Here is some of what you can expect coming up:
By all means eliminate far-right organizations. Also the next-door neighbors, the far-left organizations.
This is the Democratic Party.
No, Art, it isn’t. Only in your lurid fantasies.
And then there’s this:
“Beginning on September 1, tapes were released of conversations between former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and top CNN figures, including Chris Cuomo and president Jeff Zucker. The conversations between Zucker and Cohen especially go a long way toward explaining how Donald Trump became president. We see clearly how Zucker, famed now as a supposed stalwart force of anti-Trumpism, actually encouraged him during the 2016 campaign, to the point where he offered Trump help on how to succeed in a CNN-sponsored debate.”
“It got worse. Zucker promised Cohen, “I’m going to give him a call right now and I’m going to wish him luck in the debate tonight.”
Why Zucker said he would call, and not email, was the real punchline.
“I’m very conscious of not putting too much on email, as you’re a lawyer, as you understand,” Zucker said, adding: “And, you know, as fond as I am of the boss, he also has a tendency, like, you know, if I call him or I email him, he then is capable of going out at his next rally and saying that we just talked and I can’t have that, if you know what I’m saying. It’s not that I don’t want to talk to him every day. I’ve just got to be careful.”
“Zucker was offering Trump better results with his network during general election season, and giving out a free sample in the form of advice for that night’s debate. Why? Because at that level of the game, what isn’t about money is about power.”
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