Once in a while, we stray away from the satirical nature of our posts to discuss, with all seriousness, certain issues that we feel merit some critical thinking and healthy debate. This is one of those times…
There is an ongoing online petition which some of you may have signed. It seeks to have blogger Mocha Uson’s Facebook page shut down.
As a former journalist and advocate for the First Amendment, I consider this petition not only ridiculous but hypocritical. Here’s why:
Facebook is a community of people. Its stated mission is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Every day, people come to Facebook to share their stories, see the world through the eyes of others and connect with friends and causes. The conversations that happen on Facebook reflect the diversity of a community of more than one billion people.”
Facebook hinges on free expression. It allows users to exercise their constitutional right to free speech. In the United States, it’s called our First Amendment rights.
For Facebook to stifle this freedom of expression, is, to put it bluntly, unconstitutional.
However, precisely because it is a community of people, Facebook can develop, and has developed, a set of standards to help its users understand what type of sharing is allowed and what kind of content would constitute a violation of those standards.
Facebook states it bluntly: “Because of the diversity of our global community, please keep in mind that something that may be disagreeable or disturbing to you may not violate our Community Standards.”
So, for Facebook to even consider shutting down Mocha Uson’s page, the posts must fall under one or a combination of these categories:
* Direct Threats
* Dangerous Organizations
* Bullying and Harassment
* Attacks on Public Figures
* Criminal Activity
* Sexual Violence and Exploitation
* Regulated Goods
* Hate Speech
* Violence and Graphic Content
Being an individual of a particular political persuasion is not a violation of Facebook’s community standards. Whether or not Uson espouses only the side of the Duterte administration and its supporters is not an issue. Those on the other side have as much freedom to espouse theirs. And in the spirit of healthy debate, one can agree or disagree, and Facebook allows for such healthy exchange.
Facebook will not ban FOX News or CNN for their opposing political leanings, will it?
So what if there are 25,000 people who have signed the petition for Facebook to shut down Uson’s FB page? She has 4 Million followers. They, too, have the right to listen to what she has to say.
But the fact that the signers can affix their signature to this petition and openly share it, ON FACEBOOK, is reassuring. It means that Facebook believes in the First Amendment while adhering to the established community standards.
But wait, the petition’s call to shut down Uson’s Facebook — isn’t that a threat? Isn’t that bullying? Aren’t those a violation of FB’s community standards? Not to mention the hate speech that have been posted by some of the petitioners.
Even the petition itself smacks of contradiction:
It says of Uson’s blog, “The said Facebook page widens the rift between those who support the current administration and those who are critical of it.”
And so, by shutting down Uson’s page, do the petitioners expect to have everlasting peace and unity among the Filipinos?
And when the petition talks about “lies,” that Uson is supposedly spreading, I just can’t imagine that those who are against Duterte speak the truth and nothing but the truth.” On THEIR Facebook pages. So help us, God!
Should we then also petition to shut down the Facebook accounts of the likes of Cynthia Patag? Jim Paredes? Raissa Robles? Rappler? Inquirer? They all divide us, don’t they?