John Samples: Facebook's Oversight Board Was Right To Uphold Trump Ban

A member of the board (and a Cato Institute vice president) defends the controversial decision to kick the former president off the social media platform.


On January 7, 2021, Facebook indefinitely suspended the account of President Donald Trump, saying he had violated the platform's "Community Standards" the day before by calling Capitol Hill rioters "great patriots" even as they were engaged in a violent demonstration. In another post on the same day, Trump also pushed "an unfounded narrative of electoral fraud and persistent calls to action" while pro-Trump rioters rampaged in the halls of Congress. Trump's account, which once boasted 35 million followers and was routinely one of the most popular pages at Facebook, has remained frozen since. (Trump was also banned from Facebook's sister app, Instagram).

Facebook's management immediately remanded its decision to the platform's Oversight Board, an independent group of 20 people who have the legal right to overturn any suspension on the site. On May 5, the board ruled that Facebook applied its standards correctly by suspending Trump's account but that it erred in making the suspension indefinite. "It is not permissible for Facebook to keep a user off the platform for an undefined period, with no criteria for when or whether the account will be restored," reads the decision. "In applying this penalty, Facebook did not follow a clear, published procedure." The board gave Facebook up to six months to explain why Trump will not be allowed back on the platform or to lay out the criteria by which he will be let back on.

John Samples is a political scientist and a vice president at the libertarian Cato Institute. He's also a member of Facebook's Oversight Board (go here for a list of all members). He tells Nick Gillespie how the group came to its conclusions and why he thinks the Oversight Board is an excellent example of private-sector governance of cyberspace. He also discusses his 2019 policy analysis "Why the Government Should Not Regulate Content Moderation of Social Media," casts a dark eye on attempts by liberal and conservative politicians to recast Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as common carriers subject to intense governmental oversight, and explains why a single standard of content moderation is both unwise and impossible.

"Despite the fact that I'm on Facebook's Oversight Board, I worry about a single unified set of content moderation [principles]," says Samples, who argues that a multiplicity of platforms and approaches to speech make more sense from a libertarian perspective. "You don't want one set of rules for the entire world, but you also may need different platforms, different kinds of entities providing these services. I wouldn't necessarily want to see what's good for Facebook to spread everywhere in exactly the same form."

NEXT: Can the State Influence Baby-Making With Policy?

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  1. Cato is as libritarian as CAP at this point. If you uphold a ban on some bodies speach you should do the dignified thing and leave the libritarian think tank. Cato used to have an economist that worked at Ford, and when testifying in front of congress about economic protections he said "it is not Hondas fault that Ford makes an inferior product". That is a principled take. Ditching your principles because the "cool" kids invited you to their luch table makes you a shell of a human being not worthy of discussion

    1. You still don't understand the concepts of private property and voluntary association.

      1. So your libritarian take is that some people don't deserve free speech rights? You sir are as much a defender of equal inalienable right as you are a soldier.

        1. Some people don't deserve to use my property to advance their speech, that is correct. That is what property rights are all about. You don't have an inalienable right to use MY property for YOUR speech.

          1. OOOOOH, now do the same about illegal immigrants.

            1. Same goes for them too. Illegal immigrants don't have a right to use my property for their speech without my permission. What is your point?

              1. Hint: The territory of the US is the common property of the citizens of the US, and not of, e.g., Guatamalans.

                And JesseAz rightly ignored the "for... speech" weasel because it's irrelevant to the property claim.

                1. "The territory of the US is common property..."? NO! All property is private or it's not property. Have you heard of "tragedy of the commons"?

                  1. Simply because having common areas owned by a government entity versus individuals have built in problems doesn't mean common property doesn't exist at all.

          2. "to use my property to advance their speech"

            Facebook, Amazon and Google owe their existence to government investment and sponsorship, either directly via In-Q-Tel, or through their proxies. They know who butters their bread.
            Facebook, Amazon and Twitter have flat out said that Tom Perez, the DNC and several Democratic PACs all issued requests to remove Trump from their platforms.

            There's nothing remotely "muh private company" that happened here. This is elected officials censoring their opponents using corporatist tactics.
            The first amendment is being raped.

            You, Cato and Gillespie all know this, but are gaslighting; because you've all picked a side and it isn't libertarianism.

            Also, how much have you earned for posting here?

            1. Fine. Because Hank Rearden drove on public roads in order to go to Rearden Steel, his property wasn't really private and the state may nationalize his company. Is that really the argument you want to make? Because it sure sounds like "you didn't build that". Nothing is private because everyone used some public resource at some time. Welcome to the Soviet, comrade! Who knew you were such a flaming communist.

              1. Reardon cannot restrict who drives on the public bridge, despite the fact it was made from his steel. The business model of these tech giants includes significant amounts of collective financial resources, either directly or indirectly. An argument can also be made that if you make so much profit that you can take over the entire public square with your gigantic soapbox, and conspire with other soapbox owners and with elected officials in charge of the square to exclude other soapboxes, you are not justified in claiming private property rights.

              2. Try rereading ML's first paragraph, again, this time for comprehension. It is well established that when a private entity acts at government behest it is subject to the same First Amendment restrictions as a government actor.

            2. And. Anyone is free to make any request they like of anyone else. Simply making a request does not automatically make the requestee a slave of the requestor. It depends on where the locus of decision making lies. And for privately owned companies, the locus of decision making rests with the company's management, not anyone else. It is management that has the power to either grant or refuse any request made by anyone. Did the state pass a law compelling Facebook to ban Trump? No? Then the decision was Facebook's, not the state's.

              1. Did the state pass a law compelling Facebook to ban Trump? No? Then the decision was Facebook’s, not the state’s.

                lol - I'm sure there are other ways the federal government can bring pressure on FB without passing specific laws.

            3. That the government did some research that ended up being the internet doesn't mean they have control over the companies on the internet.

              However it's certainly reasonable to decide that Section 230 did not provide the benefits to the public that were touted, and that the encouragement needed by giving liability protection to internet platforms that may have been needed 20 years ago are no longer needed now.

              What can be given can be taken away.

        2. In De’s defense, he/she’s not a libertarian.

          1. I am. Facebook is private property and they choose not to associate with Donald Trump. Using the threat of government violence to force facebook to provide their property and labor for Donald Trump is anti-liberty.

            1. You think someone deserved to be shot for trespassing, you aren't a libertarian.

              1. Au contraire. If you believe trespassers have rights, you might not be a libertarian.

                1. I"trespasser"
                  In the building in America that is the epitome of being owned by the people, lol.
                  You're desperate.

                  1. Outside of some idealistic commune, there is not a single acre anywhere that is owned by "the people". Neither the Capitol, nor the White House, nor the Washington Monument, nor Yellowstone Park, are owned by "the people". Each is owned by a corporate institution known as the government. And the government sets the rules for who may set foot on those parcels of land and under what conditions. If a person violates those conditions, it is trespassing, and no different than if you set foot on my private property without my permission.

                    1. ...who funds the government. out of curiosity?


                    2. Hate to break it to you, but if you shoot a trespasser who does not pose an imminent threat of violence to you or another the laws of every state and territory of the US will authorize your prosecution, conviction, and punishment.

                2. If you believe trespassers have rights, you might not be a libertarian.

                  All illegal immigrants are trespassers. But I thought you were a globalist?

                  Told you there was no such thing as libertarian globalist - thanks for the proof!

        3. Rev. Arthur L. Kuckland: "Government should stay out private businesses and communities and let them set their own community standards."

          Also Rev. Arthur L. Kuckland: "These community standards oppress muh freedoms!!"

      2. The govt has many ways of punishing social media companies that don't comply with its wishes - antitrust for one. Pelosi makes threats, they ban her opponents.

        1. To lose a benefit they were granted that others do not enjoy isn't even a punishment.

          1. Wrong. It is absolutely a punishment. Maybe not a condign punishment, but absolutely a punishment.

            E.g., if a government threatens to deny a cable company the right (possessed by no other) to dig up the street in front of my house if it carries a speech by Trump, that is absolutely a threat to punish.

      3. You still don't understand censorship should be mocked whenever it is used for political purposes.

        1. No it shouldn't. Why should it? If a forum run by Republicans wants to censor all the Democrats, or vice-versa, why should that be mocked?

          1. What if that forum advertised itself as a place where everyone could air their voice, but then started deplatforming Democrats on the request/orders of the Republican leadership.

            Because that's what actually happened. Not your phony analogy.

            This is totally a first amendment violation perpetrated by Tom Perez and Ron Klain.

          2. Jesse also cries "censorship" when his ex-girlfriend calls the cops after he won't leave her porch.

            1. Is your name Jesse? The analogy is a looney and inapt as his claim would be.

      4. Build your own gay bakery.

      5. Facebook, Twitter, Google and other Soviet Valley tech companies are arms of the left. You can't respect the property and free speech rights of entities that subscribe to an ideology that opposes either institution.

        The tech companies in question (especially Facebook) are using the institutions of free speech and private property in order to attack, silence, and destroy their political opponents. Therefore, any legal actions take against them is the appropriate retaliatory force to take against them.

  2. https://twitter.com/mtaibbi/status/1392504437500006403?s=19

    Upon request, I’m unlocking this story from yesterday:
    Reporters Once Challenged the Spy State. Now, They're Agents of It - TK News by Matt Taibbi

    1. Great read. Taibbi and Greenwald have been on fire as of late.

      1. Meanwhile Sullum splooges all over Reason jacking off to his fantasy girl Liz Cheney.

        1. If you told Reason readers 15 years ago that in 2021 Reason would be shilling for eternal war Neocons, lying about the most libertarian president since Coolidge, and plumping for censorship, I wonder what they would say.

          1. "We need to poll some millenials."

  3. Cato Institute for Censorship!

  4. Regardless of whether this was the right decision, in what way is this board independent and what does it mean to call it an oversight board?

    Mark Zuckerberg owns far more than 50% of Facebook's voting rights. The board of directors answers to Zuckerberg, which isn't the way it's supposed to be for such a large corporation. If this "oversight board" owes its existence to Zuckerberg, and the members either owe their presence on the board to Zuckerberg or one of his handpicked members, then this board is Zuckerberg overseeing himself.

    This board reminds me of a grand jury in a high profile police brutality case. The district attorney can get a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, but his job depends on endorsements, funds, and volunteers from law enforcement unions. He doesn't want to anger them by indicting a police officer. To assuage all the angry voters who want the cop indicted, however, he takes the case to a grand jury--so there's plausible deniability. It won't be his decision either way! Whether the cop gets indicted, however, is clearly up to him.

    Can you show me a case where the oversight board made a ruling that went against what Zuckerberg wanted?

    'cause I'm not buying it.

    Zuckerberg controls everything that happens at Facebook to the extent that Zuckerberg wants to control anything that happens. He wants the appearance of being overseen by a truly independent board without actually being overseen by anyone. If Zuckerberg didn't control an outsized majority of the voting rights, he might have lost his job sometime before the pandemic, when Facebook's stock was down 40% and there was an advertising boycott of his platform.

    1. Zuckerberg made this decision. Dorsey personally makes Twitter's big decisions. Full stop.

    2. What does Zuckerberg want? I have no special knowledge, but I speculate that he doesn't specifically want a ham-sandwich grand jury which can be bullied into obeying his orders. This is because unlike (sadly) our much-abused grand jurors, the people on the Oversight Board consider themselves bigshots who would scorn to simply enforce someone else's orders. At least one member would resign and publish (or try to publish) an expose if Z tried such a blunt method of influence.

      My guess is that Z wants a handpicked board of "experts" who are largely on board with his agenda, and will carry it out without explicit orders because they're already predisposed. And what agenda would be carried out? Presumably taking a handful of high-profile cases to nudge the company in a direction which will please censorious governments and keep them off Z's back, while avoiding major backlash from free-speech elements.

      The Trump decision shows that they're balancing these considerations in a censorious direction, declaring that it was OK to ban Trump but holding out the possibility of unbanning him in some undefined future time under undefined conditions. This allows a headline saying that the board "overruled" company officials, while the bottom-line effect (for now) remains the same.

      1. So on second thoughts, maybe "avoiding backlash" means "letting the media spin your rulings as more pro-speech than they are."

    3. Just for the record, here's the stats:

      "According to an analysis of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission data by the activist shareholder organization Open MIC, 68% of outside investors voted during the May 30 meeting for Facebook to separate the board chairman role from the C.E.O., up from 51% who voted on a similar proposal last year. An even more overwhelming majority, 83%, voted to implement a “one share, one vote” system at Facebook, replacing the dual-class structure that's now in place. Under the current structure, Class A voters receive only one vote per share, while Class B voters—which consist of the company's management and directors—receive 10 votes per share. This means that Zuckerberg, the company's majority shareholder who holds 75% of Facebook's Class B stock, controls 58% of Facebook's vote.

      Zuckerberg owns a small portion of Facebook, but he owns 58% of the voting shares.

      No one gets on the board of directors unless he votes for them, and the primary purpose of the board of directors is to oversee the CEO. Zuckerberg handpicks his own babysitters. If anything ever happens at Facebook that Zuckerberg doesn't want, it's because someone didn't property understand what Zuckerberg wanted.

      This "oversight" board is presumably there to provide Zuckerberg with the pretense of oversight. Until Zuckerberg no longer controls the the majority of the voting shares, he won't be overseen by anybody but the FTC and the Justice Department, and the old man in the White House who oversees them. And this is probably the real reason why this "oversight" board is ruling against Trump.

      Facebook is facing a one-party government, where the Democratic party and the government are the same thing, an FTC that is openly working an antitrust suit to break Facebook up into Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp, at the very least, and limit their ability to make future acquisitions. To whatever extent Facebook can make the Democratic party happy, he's doing that because they have him by the cojones.

      This is where those who argue for Facebook's association rights fall short: They fail to account for the fact that the Democratic party has been openly calling to break up Facebook in retaliation for Facebook's reluctance to crack down on "misinformation", etc. and people like former President Trump. As a libertarian, when I'm talking about association rights, I'm not talking about a one party state forcing a company to violate the free speech rights of former presidents and average Americans under threat of breaking them up and wrecking their business. And that's what's happening here.

        1. Leave it to Ken to do more actual research and reporting than Cato or Gillespie.

  5. Facebook can ban whoever they want. People can vote with their feet if they dislike how it's moderated. And to be clear, I entirely support people dumping Facebook for other platforms.

    The thing about free speech is it only works if everyone gets it. That includes Facebook.

    1. Facebook has contractual obligations to its content creators. They profit from those content creators' work--sell advertising on top of it actually. And if some content creators base a business on complying with Facebook's policies, Facebook doesn't have a right to arbitrarily harm those businesses without any consideration for their contractual rights.

      Say you put up a flyer that says, "$100 reward for lost cat". If someone shows up at your door with your cat, you owe them $100. You don't get to claim that if they don't like not being paid $100 for finding the cat, they can go find their own cat. You willingly took on the obligation to pay them $100 for their efforts when you put up the flier. And there isn't anything about the First Amendment that protects fraud.

      Facebook has contractual obligations to people who put time, effort, and money into their Facebook pages, and those obligations don't go away simply because of the First Amendment and the fact that there are other social media platforms.

      1. I'm not familiar with any contracts Facebook enter into with content creators. I know there's terms of use at play, but I'm not aware of anything that would contractually limit Facebook's right to moderate their platform as they see fit. Do you have a reference for this? I'd be interested in reading up on it.

        1. I believe several of the commenters here are technically correct in calling the Facebook terms of use a contract. Thing is, although that may be, Facebook’s legal staff are no dummies; they have put clauses in the terms of use that essentially say, “we reserve the right to moderate our platform as we see fit.”

          1. The courts routinely throw out clauses that say a contract can be altered at any time for any reason by one party. That kind of clause means there are no enforceable obligations, and yet those contractual obligations exist.

            It may be that Facebook has a right to kick some conspiracy theorist off their platform, but that doesn't mean they don't owe the conspiracy theorist anything. If the content he created wasn't against site policies at the time it was created, then Facebook may need to compensate the individual in some way to some extent. They may be in breach of that contract.

            1. "If the content he created wasn’t against site policies at the time it was created, then Facebook may need to compensate the individual in some way to some extent. They may be in breach of that contract."

              I don't see anything in the ToS that would compel facebook to compensate someone whose post was removed or account suspended. Which section do you see such language in?

              1. "I don’t see anything in the ToS that would compel facebook to compensate someone whose post was removed or account suspended. Which section do you see such language in?"

                Are you being serious right now? Are you being sarcastic?

                If someone steals your car, did they violate your rights--even if you don't have a contract with them with terms that specifically say they can't steal your car?

                All of your rights and duties aren't necessarily addressed or specified in a contract. Fiduciary duties are one example, and there are myriad others. As I wrote elsewhere, clauses that say a company like Facebook can change the terms of the contract whenever they want are routinely ignored by the courts. And in cases of breach of contract, the courts are likely to grant a remedy for Facebook's decision to terminate an agreement--even if they have the right to terminate that agreement. You don't get to just trick people into working for your for ten years, and then decide to screw them out of their expected payoff--without the courts imposing some kind of remedy.

                That's what contract law is about--enforcing duties and obligations when the contract is breached.

                1. You think that choosing not to publish certain content is the logical equivalent of stealing a car?

                  1. Is that what I said?

                    Is analogy over your head?

                    Are people who've never signed a contract with your obligated not to steal your car?

                    Do you believe that the only rights content creators possess are those granted by Facebook?

                    1. Your analogy makes no sense.
                      Stealing a car is illegal
                      Choosing what content to allow on your website is constitutionally protected speech.

                    2. ???? is just another of chemjeff's sockpuppets. Solely here to shitpost and reinforce his narrative, Ken.

                    3. It isn't constitutional when you take advantage of a law passed by congress to absolve you of responsibility for what you publish.

                    4. Looks like we've hit the limit of nested replies. What is chemjeff's narrative that I'm supposedly advancing?

                    5. "???? is just another of chemjeff’s sockpuppets. Solely here to shitpost and reinforce his narrative, Ken."

                      That would certainly explain the willful stupidity.

          2. You should look up unconscionable contracts or clauses.

          3. Thing is, although that may be, Facebook’s legal staff are no dummies; they have put clauses in the terms of use that essentially say, “we reserve the right to moderate our platform as we see fit.”

            I'm sure plantation-owners' legal documents were in order too. If the slaves don't like it, they can just go to another plantation or start their own plantation.

        2. Terms of service are a contract. Contracts can be verbal. If you see an ad that says McDonalds will sell you a milkshake for 99 cents, they are obligated to sell you a milkshake for 99 cents because you came to their restaurant and presented 99 cents.

          "A unilateral contract is created when someone offers to do something "in return for" the performance of the act stipulated in the offer.[5] In this regard, acceptance does not have to be communicated and can be accepted through conduct by performing the act.[6] Nonetheless, the person performing the act must do it in reliance on the offer.[7]"


          Facebook says, "We'll let you promote your show on our platform so long as you don't x, y, or z."

          Some conspiracy theorist shows up, promotes his show on their platform for ten years, or however long, doesn't do x, y, or z, and then Facebook kicks him off the platform for content that violated terms that didn't exist at the time he created the content?

          That's breach of contract and may be fraud. They let him create content and expand the audience for their platform for ten years with his content. He put ten years of work into establishing his audience on their platform, and now they want to renege? He put in that work because he had a clear expectation of a payoff. It's like they hired a contractor and refused to pay him after he did the work.

          1. "Some conspiracy theorist shows up, promotes his show on their platform for ten years, or however long, doesn’t do x, y, or z, and then Facebook kicks him off the platform for content that violated terms that didn’t exist at the time he created the content?"

            I don't think facebook changed their policies between Trump's statements and his removal. Facebook last updated it's ToS effective October 1st from what I see.

            As of that revision (and well prior) the ToS state "we remove language that incites or facilitates serious violence." and the post by Zuck indicated "We removed these statements yesterday because we judged that their effect -- and likely their intent -- would be to provoke further violence." which would indicate the posts were removed for reasons that were clearly stated in the ToS at the time of the posts.

            1. The problem is arbitrary enforcement. There are plenty of equal comments to Trump from other world leaders, democrats, random people, etc. For a clause to be enforceable the company has to work at non arbitrary compliance to the clause. An example of this is if a company doesn't defend a trademark, they generally are considered to have lost the trademark. If a company is arbitrarily enforcing rules, it isn't actually a rule. Nunes did sue Twitter under this theory at some point.

              1. Arbitrary enforcement is certainly a moral failing, I'm just not aware of any legal precedent for it being a tort claim regarding private enterprise.

                I'm not a lawyer, so maybe someone can provide an example of case law that would apply here, but I'm not aware of any.

                1. Maybe you aren't familiary with the arbitrary enforcement of the contracts of indentured servants.

                  Still need a lawyer to figure out that it can/does lead to some pretty oppressive outcomes?

            2. Trump is only one example.

              What about Alex Jones? What about all the other people who have been deplatformed in recent years?

              You think this is all about Trump for some reason?

              1. Moreover, what about all the people who got kicked off for having gun channels that 'promoting or calling for violence' while branches of Antifa and the Nation of Islam openly call for and threatn violence.

                The 1A and 14A exist whether you like it or not. Whether they exist or not doesn't dictate the (im)morality or fraud associated with putting up a lost cat poster and then refusing to pay because the person who found your cat is Jewish. Égalité predates and is a the more critical founding principle than either amendment. To suggest we passed either one to just support black people or Jews is monstrously ignorant and an inversion of the logic. The law should apply equally to billion dollar corporations as it does to a poor black/deplorable person and, from a logical/common sense perspective, the erosion of the principle to meet the lowest standard is a race to the bottom that detriments both/all.

          2. YouTube is a much better example of this than Facebook since they promised revenue sharing explicitly to contract creators. They have changed rules on the fly and demonetized videos that they freely admit did not violate rules at the time the video was created.

            1. I'd still err on the side of platform owners having a right to moderate their platform under the principle of free speech. I do, of course, agree that arbitrary and inconsistently applied rules are terrible policy, but people have the right to make bad decisions.

              As an analogy, let's say there's a grocery store. The owner decides that they want to promote vegetarianism and decides to stop stocking meat products. That costs the producers of those meat products potential sales, but they don't have a right to have their products stocked in that store. Maybe the store owner is super arbitrary with it and stocks bacon, but nothing else with meat. Maybe they only allow meat products with a Y in the name. Maybe they even get confused and stop carrying beyond burgers even though they are meatless. It's still their store and they can decide what to stock.

              I think the same principle applies here. We keep circling around the idea of the ToS being a "contract" but even if it was, I'm not seeing a relevant provision that would compel facebook (or Youtube) to continue hosting content they didn't wish to, especially if they felt it violated their ToS (or "community standards") as Facebook claimed with Trump's posts.

      2. The advertisers have the choice to stop paying FB if they don’t like their business decisions.

        1. Unless all the alternatives are captured and/or worse. Go ahead, take your ads to the Wapo, NYT, or Huffpo.

          1. Go ahead, take your ads to Parler.
            Go ahead, take your ads to Telegram.

    2. And they can to to another platform that gets kicked off the internet by Apple, et al, under the threat of government caring about antitrust or their use of slave labor to make phones.

    3. And people should be able to sue a company for vague and arbitrary enforcement of their contractual clauses. In this case even the Oversight board complained of both aspects saying Trump had violated a rule many others had without enforcement and issued a "punishment" not found in their set of rules.

      1. They are rather explicit that arbitrary enforcement isn't sufficient to constitute permission:

        "If we fail to enforce any of these Terms, it will not be considered a waiver. Any amendment to or waiver of these Terms must be made in writing and signed by us."

        Again, I'm not arguing about the wisdom of such a decision, just that they have the right to make such a decision, good or bad.

        1. You are ignoring past precedence one contractual enforcement.

          You also have to understand contract conscionability. I can't enforce a contract on someone else where the contract gives me the power to arbitrarily change terms on a whim. That is not allowed in any other contractual realm outside of SV. Mostly because it has been handwaved away by friendly SV courts.

          1. I'm not a lawyer and could be wrong, but are you sure that past practices would supersede explicit contractual arrangements? Most of what I'm turning up on google is regarding collective bargaining, but even there an unambiguous provision in the contract seems to take precedence.

            Even when past practice is successfully used, it seems to be when the past practice has been generally consistently applied, not when a rule is inconsistently applied. If you could dig up some references for what you're arguing here, I'd certainly like to learn more about it.

        2. Super rich corporation has lots of smart lawyers who make sure their TOS favors them. Not a big surprise there, and their right to do so, since the website is their private property.

          What do users expect for a website they are using free of charge? For the corporation to make the TOS give the users a lot of power. Why would they.

        3. Again, I’m not arguing about the wisdom of such a decision, just that they have the right to make such a decision, good or bad.

          Ability, not right. People and corporations have the ability to take all sorts of unwise and immoral action, that does not make it a right or them correct any more than the 2A makes shooting people a right (should go without saying but, it doesn't).

  6. On January 7, 2021, Facebook indefinitely suspended the account of President Donald Trump, saying he had violated the platform's "Community Standards" the day before by calling Capitol Hill rioters "great patriots" even as they were engaged in a violent demonstration.

    Did he? Or is this factually incorrect... or... OR, is it technically correct, which means that the entire Democratic party explicitly supported riots, burning, killing, destruction, mayhem, assault (I could go on) because they praised the eleven peaceful protesters in the back while violent activity went on in parallel? Let's see who blinks first.

  7. "You don't want one set of rules for the entire world, but you also may need different platforms, different kinds of entities providing these services. I wouldn't necessarily want to see what's good for Facebook to spread everywhere in exactly the same form."

    And I doubt we'll see it in *exactly* the same form. But if the governments of the world get their way, we'll see more censorship on major platforms, generally in the direction of stopping speech these governments don't like.

    I'm including the U. S. among the governments pressing for censorship - these letters from Congresscritters, and probably the back-channel discussions which might or might not come out some day, indicate what direction they're pushing.

    Private platforms making private decisions! Because it sure would be unfortunate if the government started an expensive investigation, or denied some contract, or...

    1. And I doubt we’ll see it in *exactly* the same form.

      Yeah, I loathed the use of *exactly* too. Machiavelli isn't exactly Moussilini, doesn't mean I would want either one's policies or a mix of them as global regulatory policy.

  8. I think Trump will not be allowed back on the platform. https://www.matchoffice.com/

  9. Fair enough, then kick off all the other politicians foreign and domestic that have incited people to violence.

    See if you apply it equally suddenly they get squeamish.

    That's because Trump didn't incite violence, and it's a political hit job. They know it, we know it, and now libertarians do too.

  10. And it just goes to show that CATO libertarians are frigging WORTHLESS.

    1. I know, right? Real libertarians should abolish all of these "oversight boards" and whatnot and just ban whomever they want, and if the banned individuals complain, simply say the reason is FYTW.

      1. How did I know you'd come out for censorship?

        1. Censorship by private individuals on private property? Of course! It is called property rights. Do you think it is libertarian for the state to force property owners to endure speech they do not wish to tolerate on their own property?

          1. Oh horseshit ... the value of freedom of expression is bigger than your idea that corporations can break the TOS at will.

          2. Censorship by private individuals on private property? Of course! It is called property rights.

            Who's property? My terminal? Comcasts' lines? The backbone provider? If Facebook doesn't want it on their servers, they shouldn't have allowed it on in the first place. If I post a sign on the edge of my property that says "No trespassing." I still have limits on what I can do to trespassers. If I post a sign on the edge of my property that says, "Free food, everyone welcome." and then kick people out and have them run out of town, we aren't exactly talking about my property rights.

            1. If Facebook doesn’t want it on their servers, they shouldn’t have allowed it on in the first place.

              Moreover, if my sign said "Free food, everyone welcome, BYOB" and I kicked people off the property and kept/retained the rights to whatever 'B' they 'BYO'ed, *my* property rights are even less pertinent.

      2. "I know, right? Real libertarians should abolish all of these “oversight boards” and whatnot and just ban whomever they want, and if the banned individuals complain, simply say the reason is FYTW."

        That would be a change from now...how?

  11. How much money does FB give CATO? That will determine who this guy is shilling for...

    Your a publisher FB...plan and simple

  12. Facebook has every right to ban anyone they like. That's how private property works. By definition a private entity can censor anyone, that's an offense only a gov can commit. A politician forcing a private company to publish their speech is exactly the same as a politician prohibiting content. Any reader of Reason should understand this.

    How far should we go to force private companies to publish the speech of others? Should we force the NRA to allow Anytown to publish an op-ed in The American Rifleman? Should the Watchtower be forced to publish ads from NAMBLA?

    Gov already infringes on the rights of citizens too much already; what positive would come from allowing them more control of private companies internal policies?>

    1. You are wrong. Facebook does not clearly outline what is and is not acceptable conduct leaving them to make up the rules as they go along. You are making excuses for people to commit fraud and break contracts.

      Since companies like Facebook are arms of the left then any legal actions taken against them is the proper retaliatory force they are conducting. They are using the institutions of free speech and private property in order to destroy their political opponents and must be held accountable.

      It is not libertarian to side with a company who makes in-kind contributions to the nihilistic left and your mentality enables the forces who want to destroy civilizations like ours.

      1. Yeah, The American Rifleman will tell you, up front, "We won't publish this." or otherwise refuse to publish you prior to seeing the work. Even then, if you asked what was wrong or what needed changed in order to get published, assuming you were writing in good faith, they'd let likely let you know.

        In the context of that medium, Facebook (or other platform) will accept your article for publication, make money off the ad revenue, promise you payment, and, upon recieving a negative review, reneg on payment, redact the article, and retain rights to its publication (and maybe call for you to be barred from publication elsewhere and have your bank account closed).

        Not even the scummiest of yellow-journalist publishers would get away with such one-sided contracting and dishonest behavior.

    2. Facebook has every right to ban anyone they like. That’s how private property works.

      *Scribbles "Now try offering separate but equal facilities for blacks." on a sheet of paper and seals it in an envelope.*

      Ban blacks from your business and see how it goes. When you're done, open the envelope.


  13. The claim that Facebook has a right to do this because it is a private company is to dodge the main issue and make excuses for the fraud Facebook and even Twitter commit on a regular basis.

    When Mark Zuckerberg testified in Congress in 2017, he said Facebook is "a forum for all ideas." There are no terms of service and there is no way to appeal to a human being or someone to try to explain your intentions. There are not any clear standards of conduct spelled out in Facebook's TOS so users can know what to do and what is not allowed. Consequently, Facebook can make up the rules as it goes.

    I can hear the response from so-called libertarians who will snidely say "Go start your own platform." That is realistic in light of payment processing companies like PayPal and Stripe adopting the left's ethics too, huh? Remember when PayPal partnered with the SPLC and even went so far as to break contracts with clients like VDARE (who is now suing PayPal for this)?


    With this in mind, people like myself can't start new social media or platforms since the left's ethics or activists now dominate payment processing and even advertising companies (like Google). Besides, why should I leave when it's companies like Facebook and Twitter committing fraud with their TOS's or lack thereof?

    1. The issue of payment processing is probably a far stronger argument than deplatforming. Not processing a payment has a weaker free speech argument than not publishing a post and there are larger barriers to entry than creating a new platform. I'm still hesitant to mandate companies conduct business in any particular way, but this one is at least compelling enough to put me on the fence.

      I think it would hinge on whether payment processing services were still available. If paypal cut ties with a company, but Stripe and Square would still process their payments, I'd be inclined to let the free market deal with it. If there was sufficient unity in the payment processing industry to effectively bar legal activity, I would probably be in favor if some degree of regulation.

      1. Laws that require companies to provide service with what they offer is consistent with contract enforcement. If a company provides service it is consistent with the common law that they will and not break its terms for reasons unstated (i.e. differing political beliefs).

        Courts have ruled this way and legislative bodies follow through with laws like the ones I describe consistent with court decisions. California has a law on its books prohibiting a denial of service based on a customer's political views and that is the basis of VDARE's lawsuit against PayPal. If possible, I also hope at some point VDARE sues the SPLC since they are the ones who counseled PayPal to do this.

        Unfortunately, even Square has the same problem as Stripe. For example, Square prohibits users from selling firearms and it is explicitly in the merchant agreement. I think that should be prohibited too since guns are legal and, in many case, needed for people to live.

        What business does a payment processing company or bank have in scrutinizing their customer's transactions? With the hostility of the left has to guns, there aren't that many payment processing companies who would allow transactions involving firearms to be processed. Those that do can be assimilated down the line.

        I mean is it going to have to get where cell phone companies cut off service to clients who's political views they disagree with to understand the importance of trade?

    2. The claim that Facebook has a right to do this because it is a private company is to dodge the main issue and make excuses for the fraud Facebook and even Twitter commit on a regular basis.

      Not to mention what I pointed out above: Don't like FB's policies? Go to WaPo! Don't like Twitter's policies? Go to Parler! Don't like Visa's policies? Go to Mastercard! Don't like Paypal's policies? Go to Patreon! The "It's a private company!" argument also dodges the collusive/friendly opposition issue. A slave with their choice of plantations to work on is still a slave.

      1. If I hadn't made it clear enough, the whole point of my argument is that the left's woke cancer is infecting corporate American at almost every level. As long as this cancer spreads and libertarians continue to spin their wheels arguing over semantics rather than focusing on the bigger picture (i.e. defending our civilization) then we won't have private property, free markets or even free minds anymore.

        This is a point even Reason's staff and brass (like Nick Gillespie) should understand but do not. Instead they decided to become a left-coast, Never Trump rag that signals their TDS at every opportunity.

  14. Another piece of information and right out of China's social credit score playbook. Facebook assigns people with a classification and scores people based on posts when making their decisions about acceptable user conduct.

    It wouldn't dawn on Facebook to instead publish a clear and consistent TOS that spelled out what is and is not acceptable conduct including warnings if violations occur. I have no respect for a company that does this and since Facebook is using China's model, it goes to show where their loyalties like.

    By adopting leftist or Marxist ideas, they do not respect people's free speech and property rights. Therefore we are under no obligation to respect theirs. I wouldn't conduct violence or vandalism against Facebook et all, just would like federal and state governments to retaliate against them with antitrust investigations and lawsuits.


  15. Stop overthinking this. My cell carrier cannot cancel my cell service because they don’t like my political bumper sticker (even if the bumper sticker is some conspiracy theory). Facebook and Twitter, as modern communication methods, should be held to the same standard.

    In any case, letting Trump back on these platforms, would probably help the left or Democrats drum up the TDS craze again.

    1. I agree with your first paragraph and you make a valid observation in the second.

  16. Sure, from a libertarian standpoint, FB is entitled to kick Trump off the platform. But the pseudo-independent 'oversight' board wasn't asked if they were entitled to do it, it was asked if they should do it.

    The idea that a supposed libertarian would vote in favor of silencing somebody, and on such a sketchy basis, disturbs me. I never thought the libertarian movement was about building the most oppressive society the non-aggression principle would permit...

    1. "I never thought..."? You question the result of non-aggression? Then you don't understand: "The means determines the end." Non-violence is not perfect in every instance because individuals are not perfect in every instance. But non-violence leaves open the chance for reason to prevail, on net. Does initiated violence? No. It is always the wrong means, even when one result is just. We must look at the entire context of social interaction.

  17. One other thing, ladies and gentlemen. What I raised with payment processing companies above gets better. The American Medical Association has gone woke and has embraced Critical Race Theory (link below). Imagine now that the AMA will now influence policy decisions using CRT as its framework.

    The same kind of ethics PayPal used to justify cutting off conservatives and libertarians from social media will now be used sanctioning the denial of care of patients based on race. But, hey, health care is run by private companies. They can do what they want, right?


  18. Rampaged?

  19. People on the board don't like Trump and so they banned him. Enough said. The rest is wind and blather.

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