Last week an outspoken prolife friend of mine got banned from Facebook for twenty-four hours when an unknown person reported her for abuse.
My friend is one of the kindest people I know. She speaks what she believes to be truth (and I agree with her),; she speaks it in love.
She came away from the experience with the belief that virtually anyone can report virtually anyone else to Facebook and get her banned for twenty-four hours merely for having hurt someone’s feelings in what was said. Or that virtually anyone can have an enemy who is stalking her from site to site, systematically trying to get her banned.
I think almost everyone would agree that, in the U.S., you are still allowed to have a prolife (antiabortion) viewpoint, even if that would bring up unpleasant memories for a woman who had had an abortion. Even if she would regard your opinion as one that, by necessity, hurts her feelings (because she is postabortive and you disagree with the procedure’s legality).
But, on the other hand, Facebook is a private company and, by virtue of that, does have the right to support one viewpoint over another, even to the point of banning those who are prolife, whether for twenty-four hours or forever.
Thing is, will Facebook make this a pattern?
If so, the principles of free speech and free enterprise would lean toward a Christian or prolife person starting an alternative site. A site robust enough to support millions of people who would Just leave Facebook in their rearview mirror, since their viewpoints would not be acceptable to its censors anyway.
I am going to bet Facebook does not start widescale viewpoint censorship, however. They like being the leader in their field. Having competitors arise because Facebook chooses to engage in viewpoint discrimination would not be a positive for them or their bottom line growth!
And WordPress (the site supporting my blog) virtually thrives on controversy. It gets them readers and more readers mean more money.
As a friend said when I started my blog, “As a Christian you must be kind, but don’t flee from controversy. Wordpress will not censor you. Especially when there is controversy involved. It is in their best interest to just let that go by . . .”
Things to think about . . . we still have free speech, but we are not guaranteed a venue in which to express it. Watch Facebook closely and see whether the occasional episode of viewpoint censorship becomes more and more common. See what you think . . .