STAFF ED: Facebook unfairly censors and targets conservatives

A picture of a perfectly-calm baby receiving an immunization shot. A picture of a young, unclothed child, whose clothes were burned off by napalm, crying as she runs away from the horrors of the Vietnam War. Both are censored by Facebook for being “shocking, sensational, or overly violent.” 
Most of us, in some way or another, are acquainted with the Constitutional phrase “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” However, the great significance of the First Amendment is often mindlessly overlooked and taken for granted in today’s close-minded society.   
Facebook’s widely-controversial censorship of hate speech, speech which attacks a person or a group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, is a multifaceted policy that should be removed because it compromises the protections under the First Amendment. That is, unless the post under discussion presents an actual, direct threat, such as comments or posts inciting violence against specific people or organizations.
Facebook claims that its mission is to “bring the world closer together [and] see the world through the eyes of others,” according to its website. But its censorship simply undermines its mission.
One of the most hotly-debated blocked posts is a one by William Hicks, a conservative writer for a British political commentary website called Heat Street,  reading “Trump is not anti-Muslim (but) anti-ISIS. We are too busy being politically correct.” 
After posting the message, Hicks was slapped with a 30-day Facebook suspension for an innocuous, mere political speculation that did not even fall into any of the categories Facebook qualifies as punishable hate speech, which include: “direct threat, self-injury, dangerous organization, bullying and harassment, attacks on public figures, criminal activity, sexual violence and exploitation, or regulated goods.” 
The censorship of harmless opinions suggests how little tolerance Facebook has for specifically conservative viewpoints on controversial political topics. This is concerning, to say the least, because there are undeniably many other forms of hate speech floating around social media that contain much more volatile and hurtful content than Hicks’. To put it simply, Hicks’ words neither come close to classifying as hate speech nor pose any particular threat to others, but are simply a declaration of a commonly shared political viewpoint. 
A former Facebook news curator’s claim that “ninety percent of the [Facebook] team identified  as liberal, including the copy editors, who essential had the final approval of topics,” according to the Breitbart’s website that only exacerbates the situation.
Furthermore, it cannot be denied that the “hate speech” that is supposed to be censored by Facebook is too omnipresent and inevitable to be blocked completely and effectively. Considering that millions of people of diverse backgrounds and beliefs use Facebook on a daily basis, hate speech, assuming that it is not directly threatening, is also a reality that Facebook users should expect beforehand and learn to anticipate. 
It is well known that Facebook’s News Feed is tailored for an individual user’s interests through programming algorithms. Therefore, it is rather unlikely for hate speech to appear on a Facebook user’s feed unless the user actively seeks it by liking or following certain pages containing hate speech. People can simply stay away from such pages or block Facebook users in order to help filter out the appearance of any undesired hate speech, if any, on their feed. 
In the end, this is not to say that all forms of Facebook censorship should be discouraged. Going forward, Facebook should  evaluate and censor posts on a careful, case-by-case basis, instead of senselessly blocking harmless conservative posts like Hicks’ because they are simply in disagreement, especially if the content does not even qualify as hate speech according to their own standards. 
Facebook is its own private company, after all, and offers its services free of charge to millions of internet users worldwide. It should have the power to reform its own regulations, including altering its censorship policies, to ultimately uphold  its mission to meld together people of different perspectives and backgrounds.

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