Facebook is the new town hall

(Andrew Downing) #1

Once upon a time, the main barrier to free speech was government, controlled by the elite… Legislation could restrict our ability to challenge the status quo, and so we developed free speech laws. Some countries even enacted them in their constitutions.

Today, one in seven people globally are on Facebook.
It is the new town hall, and the same threat exists. The elite decide what is ok for use to express

What’s the Pirate position on this?

(Alex Jago) #2

Whatever the principles are, they need to be consistent with those for IRL private spaces that act like public space most of the time.

At the end of the day, if we want properly public spaces on the internet they’ll need to be publicly funded too (P2P models count as a client in-kind contribution).

(Andrew Downing) #3

So we as Pirates place the corporate right to profit above the personal right to free speech?

(Alex Jago) #4

How much freedom of speech do you have on someone else’s property?

(Andrew Downing) #5
  1. Corporations are not people.
  2. Property rights are not absolute.
  3. Scale matters.

Corporations are not people.
Corporations are a good concept that needs boundaries. We don’t let them vote. Their influence on public matters must have limits. I think this is an unwritten tenet of PPAU politics.

When they get too much influence over public policy, the profit motive comes to dominate the public sphere. We know this. It happens in modern elections and is the source of most political corruption. .

Property rights are not absolute.
We reserve the right to take it back for the greater public good (eminent domain). PPAU land tax policy is premised on the idea that the public should be continually compensated for being excluded from land as a result of private ownership.
We used to limit media ownership because it afforded too much influence in the public sphere. Now we all live in filter bubbles.

Scale matters
Would you find it acceptable if corporations owned most of Sydney and used that to control what could be said in Sydney? That’s more than just hypothetical actually. In London city, a lot of streets are becoming privately owned. Protests are shut down by private police.

One in seven people globally are on Facebook. Google answers all of our questions. They are the new defacto public space, but they are privately owned, they are profit led, and they enforce their own opinions about what we can say.

(Tim Challis) #6

Don’t businesses have the right to vote in local Sydney council elections? There may be a niggle about non-resident representatives gaining the right to vote on behalf of their corporations but the operant matter is minimal property ownership - not whether that owner is a living breathing homo sapien or a corporate shell…

I know: getting off the topic.

(Tom Randle) #7

Yes, in a lot of inherited-from-london-style councils businesses actually get two votes, compared to rate payers that get only one.

The principles seem to be:

  • It’s the internet, if you don’t like someone’s service then go somewhere else, while also;
  • Monopolies can be regulated, where corps/services aggregate into large enough entities with potentially abusive power the community then has a ‘right’ to step in and set some rules. Code is law etc.


Regulating discussions on the Internet to prevent censorship is a super slippery slope into doing your own censorship. As long as the internet is free and we are not forced to use Facebook, there will be outlets.

(Peter Fulton) #9

There’s already other outlets freely available. The problem is they don’t have the critical mass we need for activity to use them effectively, HOWEVER the intent of social media is to stimulate activity by creating your own content. For the most part, I’m talking about GooglePlus. Not everyone has a Google/Gmail account, and those who don’t are likely to not want to fuss about creating a new email account for use of just 1 service that does not have enough activity or friend connections they’d want to feel satisfied using it.


Facebook doesn’t exist to serve OUR needs. Even still, they content policies are open enough for us to send messages, and they are not stifling speech that much - only hate speech or illegal content - https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards .

Honestly I support free speech but for a service like Facebook if that was permitted it would turn their site into a cesspit pretty quickly so I understand why they wouldn’t want that. There is already plenty of hate groups operating on Facebook, primarily through Secret Groups.

From a Libertarian standpoint I doubt that what they are doing for extreme speech would even count as “censorship” because it is not due to government control and in fact would be promoting the free market to decide rather than government intervention.

Yeah, nobody uses that anymore. How is that our problem?

(UBI + LVT = 42 🔰‏) #11

here there is not monopoly on sharing information, cos Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, Medium, Quora, telegram and all fairly liberal in terms of not much censorship.
Also can have personal websites RSS etc.

There is little need for regulation here, and some other companies are working on blockchain social media platforms too.

Wrt facebook the issue is more dealing with fake news. They could hire more flaggers. They should have it built in so users can warn eachother. Maybe a fake news suspicious react.

(Peter Fulton) #12

Sorry. I was not suggesting that it is, but was meant to be a general statement.