Facebook Has Banned Alex Jones. Should They Have?

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Things are getting real:

I dunno, folks. These three add nothing to planet Earth by their existence, so I don’t mind banning them. But who made this decision?

Legally, there’s no First Amendment issue here since Facebook is a private company. Still, freedom of speech is an American tradition, not just a legal concept, and social media is where people speak these days. If you get banned from Facebook and half a dozen other big platforms, you’ve been effectively silenced.

Do we want a few faceless committees at Twitter and Pinterest and Instagram deciding on these things? If Facebook had been around in the 60s, would Huey Newton have been banned? David Duke in the 80s? Pat Buchanan in the 90s? Ayaan Hirsi Ali today? Should they? Once you start banning people, you’re inviting public pressure to ban even more people, and profit-seeking companies are pretty sensitive to public pressure.

We’ll see how this plays out, but I’m not sure that banning high-profile nutballs is the right way to go here. It invites endless trouble and it’s really not the biggest problem that social media has anyway. It’s the armies of flamers and trolls that really need to be brought under control.

In any case where speech is curtailed, the question to answer is: Who decides? This doesn’t mean that speech is never curtailed. We already do in some ways. But you should always ask: Who decides?

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We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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