My brush with Facebook censorship

Posted5/15/2019 1:00 AM

Anyone who reads my posts knows I don't hold back from criticizing my country and its elected/appointed officials. I've been writing to newspapers since 1966 and posting online since 2006, approaching 2,000 missives. I strive for fact-based, reasoned opinions and have never had to either retract or regret a single post. But just in the last month, Facebook twice advised me that a recent post had been blocked for "violating community standards." The notification did contain a link to appeal the block, which I immediately did. In both cases, the appeal was granted in short order.

But that still gave me a chill. I don't stick my neck out lightly, always contemplating unforeseen consequences of speaking my mind on subjects critical to me. And as a free speech advocate going back to '67 when I joined ACLU, I oppose any censorship of speech that violates some group's community standards as long as not advocating violence.

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I can't support Facebook's tossing Nation of Islam's Louis Farrakhan, Infowars' Alex Jones and others from its platform, as offensive as some of their comments are. The power to censor must be used with extreme caution. Our nation has a history of marginalizing, if not outright banning worthy free speech that would elevate the public debate if allowed. The folks in power often don't want such inconvenient truths from becoming public pixels.

Come on, Facebook, drop the decency police and let the public decide.

Walt Zlotow

Glen Ellyn

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