- Justin Bieber slid into the DMs of someone who hated his new album Today 1:05 PM
- HQ Trivia host and co-founder in Twitter feud amid shutdown Today 12:10 PM
- YouTuber shamed for fake call with Caroline Flack after her death Today 10:59 AM
- This MAGA-loving Keanu Reeves imposter isn’t fooling anyone Today 10:16 AM
- How to watch ‘Outlander’ season 5 online Today 8:00 AM
- Kobe Bryant’s complicated online legacy isn’t buried with him Today 6:00 AM
- TikTok teen’s reaction to discovering boyfriend’s cheating goes viral Saturday 4:46 PM
- This may be the creepiest Amazon review you’ll ever read Saturday 3:58 PM
- Bill Maher booed on own show over defense of Bloomberg Saturday 3:37 PM
- The Sun allegedly deletes negative Caroline Flack story after her death Saturday 2:48 PM
- How to watch ‘American Idol’ season 18 Saturday 2:00 PM
- James Blake defends girlfriend Jameela Jamil amid allegations she’s faking her illnesses Saturday 1:46 PM
- Viral video purports to show doctors with guns amid coronavirus outbreak Saturday 1:07 PM
- Russian YouTubers pretend to be Greta Thunberg, share alleged prank call with Bernie Sanders Saturday 11:07 AM
- TikTok teens are shaving off their eyebrows to ‘look like’ Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid Saturday 10:25 AM
The hypocrisy of Facebook and Apple supporting Charlie Hebdo
It’s hard to support free speech and expand business.
The massacre of 12 people at the Paris offices of controversial newspaper Charlie Hebdo earlier this week brought a tidal wave of solidarity for the victims and support of free speech—even from those who are regularly complicit in censorship around the world.
Facebook, Twitter, and Apple have been among the loudest free-speech grandstanders in the tech world in recent days. However, all three have significant histories of censorship that must be discussed in light of recent events.
Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg wrote on Friday that “different voices—even if they’re sometimes offensive—can make the world a better and more interesting place.” He also called for a global rejection of “extremists trying to silence the voices and opinions of everyone else around the world.”
Facebook, an increasingly crucial global medium of communication, censors thousands of pieces of content every year, according to the company’s own transparency reports.
Governments in India, Turkey, and Pakistan demand Facebook censor content more than any other countries. Each of these countries has restrictive speech laws prohibiting criticism of religion, the state, and certain leaders. In Pakistan, blasphemy laws in particular have led to a huge growth in Facebook censorship in the past year.
The reason for Facebook’s cooperation in censorship is easy to understand. The company, like any big tech firm, has its eyes on global expansion. To do that, Western free speech ideals are compromised.
Despite Facebook’s so-called transparency report that lists the number of censored items, the actual laws broken and crimes committed are rarely released.
Twitter, which is currently sporting a #JeSuisCharlie banner at their Paris headquarters, has blocked blasphemous content in Pakistan in the past as well—specifically, drawings of the Muslim Prophet Muhammed—in addition to censoring content in Russia.
Twitter also publishes transparency reports, but Bolo Bhi, a Pakistani civil rights group, criticized “the lack of clarity over Twitter’s takedown mechanism and company policy on how it examines such requests.”
Eventually, Twitter reversed course, though it took several months. A Twitter manager once called the company “the free speech wing of the free speech party,” a quote that has been repeatedly brought up by critics of censorship. As the company has grown, however, that mission has become increasingly difficult to uphold.
Apple—the king of U.S. technology giants—has a #JeSuisCharlie banner on its iTunes store. Not only does Apple regularly engage in censorship on its various platforms and stores—it used to be against the rules to even ridicule public figures on the iTunes store—it has actually specifically censored Charlie Hebdo in the past.
H/T Jillian C. York | Illustration by Jason Reed
Patrick Howell O'Neill is a notable cybersecurity reporter whose work has focused on the dark net, national security, and law enforcement. A former senior writer at the Daily Dot, O'Neill joined CyberScoop in October 2016. I am a cybersecurity journalist at CyberScoop. I cover the security industry, national security and law enforcement.