Facebook Has Banned Alex Jones. Should They Have?

Things are getting real:

I dunno, folks. These three add nothing to planet Earth by their existence, so I don’t mind banning them. But who made this decision?

Legally, there’s no First Amendment issue here since Facebook is a private company. Still, freedom of speech is an American tradition, not just a legal concept, and social media is where people speak these days. If you get banned from Facebook and half a dozen other big platforms, you’ve been effectively silenced.

Do we want a few faceless committees at Twitter and Pinterest and Instagram deciding on these things? If Facebook had been around in the 60s, would Huey Newton have been banned? David Duke in the 80s? Pat Buchanan in the 90s? Ayaan Hirsi Ali today? Should they? Once you start banning people, you’re inviting public pressure to ban even more people, and profit-seeking companies are pretty sensitive to public pressure.

We’ll see how this plays out, but I’m not sure that banning high-profile nutballs is the right way to go here. It invites endless trouble and it’s really not the biggest problem that social media has anyway. It’s the armies of flamers and trolls that really need to be brought under control.

In any case where speech is curtailed, the question to answer is: Who decides? This doesn’t mean that speech is never curtailed. We already do in some ways. But you should always ask: Who decides?

$500,000 MATCHING GIFT

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones: A special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of the huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.