The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent

"In the Middle" blog as Facebook spam?

I support Facebook's legal and moral right to censor whoever they like, but why these guys?


Those who follow the culture wars in the medieval studies community may be aware of a blog called In the Middle (though its URL identifies the blog as "In the Medieval Middle", which might have been the blog's previous name). I bring this up because, if you want to link to that blog on Facebook, you won't be able to, because Facebook will tell you that the blog goes against its community standards on spam.

Why? The "community standards on spam" aren't themselves very transparent, and there's no obvious reason why this particular blog should have been flagged in that way. Nor does this fit the popular story of Facebook censoring conservatives, because this blog is more aligned with the far left (critical race theory, etc.) To be clear (because this is a law and policy blog): I absolutely support Facebook's legal and moral right to "censor" whoever they like, left or right; Facebook is a private entity, just as private as when Zuckerberg was working on it in his dorm room many years ago. Facebook's choosing what posts to allow (provided it's consistent with whatever contract they may have made with their users) is just an exercise of their fundamental right of freedom of association. (Nor, as an antitrust scholar, do I favor any antitrust lawsuits against Facebook. I just wish the government would leave Facebook alone.)

Still, all I'm saying is, this particular choice of Facebook's is peculiar; I hope it's just the result of some dumb algorithm, and I hope they reverse that decision as soon as some live person gets around to looking at it.

Now. Suppose you had read, in the journal Medieval Encounters, a review essay of the book The Invention of Race in the European Middle Ages by Geraldine Heng (one of the In the Middle bloggers). And suppose you wanted to post a link to Heng's response to that essay in a Facebook post. Facebook won't allow you to do that. Much as I support Facebook on a political level, there's no particular reason for me to want to facilitate that choice of theirs, so here's the link right here.