Trump doesn't get to vomit lies on Facebook — but freedom of speech is intact

Donald J. Trump/Shutterstock
Donald J. Trump/Shutterstock

After Donald Trump incited an insurrection on Jan. 6 that led to the trashing of the U.S. Capitol, the deaths of multiple people, and the delay — though not the cancellation he sought — of the certification of Joe Biden's election as president, Facebook and Twitter finally banned Trump from their websites. Trump's vitriolic and hateful posts, which often hinted at violence, had long been in violation of the terms of service for both websites, but his status as the president, and frankly the amount of traffic he generated for both sites, was enough to shield him from being banned for years. An attempted overthrow of the government finally crossed the line. Although a cynic would also note that because Trump failed, there was good reason to think his value as a revenue-generating troll was declining anyway, making it a much easier financial decision for both organizations.

On Wednesday morning, the Facebook oversight board issued its long-awaited decision on whether or not to let Trump — who again, attempted to overthrow the U.S. government and have himself installed illegally as president — back onto the platform. In what is a sad statement on our society, there was a real question about whether or not the oversight board would give in to pressure from the Trump camp and recommend reinstating his account. But in a victory for common sense, the oversight board decided to uphold the decision to strip Trump of his ability to inject lies and incitement directly into the social media streams of the kinds of addle-brained idiots who stormed the Capitol.

Read More Show less
ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up