On September 16, several celebrities will freeze their Facebook-owned social media accounts, including Instagram, in order to protest what they consider “hate speech” and “misinformation” on the platform, i.e. any speech they disagree with.
After the 2016 presidential election, Facebook faced scrutiny from lawmakers and Hillary Clinton supporters over alleged Russian interference. According to an official report, “the Special Counsel’s investigation established that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election principally through two operations.” It primarily did this through social media posts, mainly Facebook, where it “disparaged” Hillary Clinton and “favored” now-president, Donald Trump.
This in part gave rise to the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, which claims that it is “an ongoing campaign to hold social media companies accountable for hate on their platforms. Social media must prioritize people over profit, and they must do it now.”
Celebrities are joining in to help support the cause and will be freezing their accounts for the day, including Kim Kardashian West, Leonardo DiCaprio and Katy Perry. On Twitter, Kardashian West posted, “I love that I can connect directly with you through Instagram and Facebook, but I can’t sit by and stay silent while these platforms continue to allow the spreading of hate, propaganda and misinformation – created by groups to sow division and split America apart – only to take steps after people are killed. Misinformation shared on social media has a serious impact on our elections and undermines our democracy.”
This campaign is not without its merits. Social media bullying is a problem, and the anonymity of the internet gives people free rein to say whatever they want, no matter how hurtful. Facebook moderators also report seeing suicide, murder, violence, nudity, sexual activity, child sexual abuse and other disturbing content on Facebook and other social media platforms that should be removed.
However, what is the organization’s definition of “misinformation” and “hate?” And, would this movement infringe on free speech?
According to the Stop Hate for Profit campaign, one of their “recommended next steps” includes, “Find and remove public and private groups focused on white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies, Holocaust denialism, vaccine misinformation and climate denialism.”
While society should do everything it can to eliminate white supremacy, militia, antisemitism, violent conspiracies and Holocaust denialism, what about groups that push black supremacy or feminist groups that hate men? Also, how would the 9/11 conspiracies, which are more liberal based, be treated when compared to the more conservative Benghazi conspiracies? These groups appear to specifically identify white men as the internet’s most problematic element.
More critically, why is vaccine misinformation part of this list? Would Stop Hate for Profit force social media companies to censor parents who disapprove of some vaccines due to the medical industry’s history of using preborn baby tissue during the research process? Also, what if a rushed COVID-19 vaccine is problematic or some people just don’t want to take it, will those groups be removed as well?
Additionally, global warming or climate change is still debated within science, despite what the media and many celebrities want people to believe. However, Stop Hate for Profit has labeled it “misinformation” and wants social media companies to censor it going forward.
The intention behind this internet campaign might be sound, but it appears like only certain groups and opinions would be targeted. In the United States, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, no matter how outrageous or offensive.
What the Stop the Hate for Profit campaign doesn’t want is a safer internet, but censorship of certain viewpoints.
Photo from MichaelJayBerlin / Shutterstock.com
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