Censoring the Declaration of Independence, or A Society of Robots Cannot Long Survive – Decameron


Independence Hall, Philadelphia 

Sometimes robots are machines, and sometimes they’re not.   How many times do we have to check the box “I Am Not a Robot” when navigating cyberspace?  The statement doesn’t specify if question means mechanical or philosophical.    

This week, Facebook removed sections of the Declaration of Independence from a posting done by a Texas newspaper, the Liberty County (Texas) Vindicator, which has been publishing since 1887.

CBS News reported:

This is the full passage of the Declaration of Independence that Facebook deemed a violation:

"He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

"He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

"He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

"He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us,and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions."

What happened: The Texas paper was running the Declaration of Independence on its Facebook page in 12 parts, but then Facebook declared one of the parts "goes against our standards on hate speech,” and wiped it out. After the Vindicator complained, Facebook restored the quote.  When the story of Facebook’s censoring the Declaration of Independence made the news, Facebook told CBS News: "The post was removed by mistake and restored as soon as we looked into it. We process millions of reports each week, and sometimes we get things wrong."

Who’s the “we” here?  Algorithm or person?  Have “we” lost the distinction, or are Mr. Zuckerberg and his PC minions trying to create robots of us all? 

— Decameron

PS: When the Managing Editor of the Vindicator posted a note – on Facebook — saying, “the good folks at Facebook restored the post” and said, “Thank you, Facebook,” some of the Vindicator’s readers went ballistic.  They don’t seem to think that the omission was a “mistake,” suggesting that Facebook doesn’t want to promote resistance to tyranny


About BabelFish

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.