But hey, there’s no bias — it’s just the ‘algorithms’.
The ‘neutral’ algorithm blocked text from The Declaration of Independence as ‘hate speech’.
The post — which was almost entirely text from the founding document — was from a small Texas community newspaper that was posting excerpts from the Declaration of Independence daily for their readers.
But one particular post didn’t pass the social media algorithm and was flagged for ‘hate speech’.
Since June 24, the Liberty County Vindicator of Liberty County, Texas, has been sharing daily excerpts from the declaration in the run up to July Fourth. The idea was to encourage historical literacy among the Vindicator’s readers.
The first 9 posts went up with no trouble, but the 10th, well, that one was flagged as a violation of the terms of service — specifically ‘hate speech’.
The problem was likely the description of Native Americans as ‘merciless Indian savages’ within the document itself.
“But part 10,” writes Vindicator managing editor Casey Stinnett, “did not appear. Instead, The Vindicator received a notice from Facebook saying that the post ‘goes against our standards on hate speech.'”
The post in question contained paragraphs 27 through 31 of the Declaration of Independence, the grievance section of the document wherein the put-upon colonists detail all the irreconcilable differences they have with King George III.
Stinnett says that he cannot be sure which exact grievance ran afoul of Facebook’s policy, but he assumes that it’s paragraph 31, which excoriates the King for inciting “domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavored to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages.”
The removal of the post was an automated action, and Stinnett sent a “feedback message” to Facebook with the hopes of reaching a human being who could then exempt the Declaration of Independence from its hate speech restrictions.
The Vindicator’s managing editor feared that the paper’s Facebook page would be deleted, suspended the project. All in all, he was pretty mellow about the censorship.
In his article, Stinnett is remarkably sanguine about this censorship. While unhappy about the decision, he reminds readers “that Facebook is a business corporation, not the government, and as such it is allowed to restrict use of its services as long as those restrictions do not violate any laws. Plus, The Vindicator is using Facebook for free, so the newspaper has little grounds for complaint other than the silliness of it.”
And yes, it is indeed silly to call the Declaration of Independence ‘hate speech’. This is the problem with the automated censorship — there is no allowance for historical documents. Times and interactions of people groups were indeed very different than they are now. If the document was written today, those words wouldn’t even be in there as our relationship with Native Americans has altered dramatically in 200+ years.
We’ve come a long way, baby.
I for one don’t want to see our history sanitized. It’s good to know where you came from and what mistakes you made along the way.
by Doug Giles
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