During his testimony to the Senate earlier this week, Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg claimed that his company will eventually develop and algorithm to eliminate hate speech from its platform.
Lost in that discussion is what exactly constitutes hate speech?
The beauty of the first amendment is that it protects unpopular speech. The founding fathers realized this was necessary, because uncontroversial speech will never need protecting, but the type of speech that ruffles feathers certainly could.
Now, just to clarify, I recognize Facebook is a private company and they can operate however they want.
But if they proceed in this manner, it sets a dangerous precedent, one that many governments all over the world have followed with various hate speech laws that have actually landed people in jail.
Let’s take the current immigration debate, for example. If I say that I’m not anti-immigrant but favor stronger border protections and a more judicious way to decide who comes into the country, is that hateful? It may not be to you, but to pro-immigration activists, this could easily be spun as me advocating violence against people of color (via ICE and border patrols) in an attempt to preserve white supremacy (I am a Pakistani Jew, but that fact would not matter to this crowd).
If I say I believe marriage is between a man and a woman — and to be clear, I am all for gay marriage, I’m just using this to illustrate a point — am I guilty of hateful language by implying gay people are inferior? You may not think so, but no doubt there are plenty of “social justice” activists who do.
What if I said that there are only two genders — male and female — and any other professed gender is not real. Would that make me guilty of “hate” against transgender people? To you, maybe not. But to a segment of LGBT activists? Probably.
The point here is what is hateful is generally subjective and allowing anybody to decide what constitutes “hate speech” unilaterally and shut it down is completely antithetical to what the United States was built on.
And lest you think there is no danger at all in these kinds of proposed “hate speech” algorithms Facebook is discussing making its way into law, Google “hate speech” laws in Canada and Europe.
You may be shocked by what you find.
Various groups on all sides of the political spectrum have tried to bend the first amendment to punish their respective enemies for many years.
I have zero doubt this is what Facebook’s speech code algorithms would lead to on social media.
That is bad enough.
But if it DOES eventually make its way into government policy?
Then our country is going to be in a whole heap of trouble.