Facebook Bans Bret Weinstein
A reader writes, and gives me permission to share this if I obscure his identity:
I’m a Political Science professor at a major university in [a ruby-red state] and have been since 2003. I’ve noticed in recent years what you are talking about in this essay, but wasn’t fully convinced until last night.
Last night I graded undergraduate essays in my American Government class that support Dreher’s fears. Dozens and dozens of them.
The essay prompt was simple enough. Basically, should religious organizations, like churches or synagogues or religious schools, be allowed to discriminate on the basis of religion, sexual orientation, or gender?
Some students didn’t understand what was being asked or didn’t take a position. But a sizable majority of the students who took a position (14 of the last 19 I’ve graded) have said, “No.” Moreover, they’ve said no with either complete ignorance of or disregard for the First Amendment. Most don’t even address it at all. It’s as if it doesn’t exist or is totally irrelevant to the question.
Here’s a sample of answers (paraphrased):
Religious organizations that discriminate against people of the LGBTQ community should be penalized in the same way as any other organization; churches should be treated like businesses and other organizations if the discriminate; If they discriminate in any way, they should be punished by the government; a Christian church should not be allowed to not hire someone from another religion, like Islam; how should we deal with religious organizations if they discriminate against others? Many agree with me. I think that a church like that should be shut down for a while and fined by the city. And finally: America is about equality, and sometimes someone’s ‘freedom’ must be sacrificed for it.
That’s a fair sample of the essay answers. Not sure what concerns me most: the haste and ease with which young people seek to legislate morality, or the complete ignorance of or disregard for the constitution. They simply say, X is wrong, so X should be illegal. and are unaware that there should or could be restraints or objections to that impulse in a liberal constitutional democracy. Constitutional liberalism just doesn’t cut it for them anymore (are they even taught the constitution these days?). They are more revolutionary than constitutional processes and restraints currently allow (but for how long?).
This is a clear trend I’m noticing more and more among students in the past few years, even here in [ruby-red state]. That’s right, [ruby-red state]. They seem to be manipulated militantly from something (social media?) in recent years. Scary, as a believer but also simply as an American.
Meanwhile, this happened today:
Bret Weinstein, as you should know, is not even on the political right. He is an evolutionary biologist and atheist who describes himself as a social progressive and left-libertarian. He was essentially driven out of Evergreen State University for refusing to bend the knee to the SJW mob. Look who is supporting him in this latest row:
This is crazy! Even for someone like me who is well aware of baseless cancellations by our social media overlords, to evict my friend @BretWeinstein is a new kind of insanity. I would go so far as to call it evil. You could not find a more measured and reasonable man than Bret. https://t.co/tGTm42FlTx
— Sean Ono Lennon (@seanonolennon) October 22, 2020
Sohrab Ahmari of the New York Post has been talking to a Facebook whistle blower. The source says:
There are at least half a dozen “Chinese nationals who are working on censorship,” a former Facebook insider told me last week. “So at some point, they [Facebook bosses] thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to get them H-1B visas so they can do this work.’ ”
The insider shared an internal directory of the team that does much of this work. It’s called Hate-Speech Engineering (George Orwell, call your office), and most of its members are based at Facebook’s offices in Seattle. Many have Ph.D.s, and their work is extremely complex, involving machine learning — teaching “computers how to learn and act without being explicitly programmed,” as the techy Web site DeepAI.org puts it.
When it comes to censorship on social media, that means “teaching” the Facebook code so certain content ends up at the top of your newsfeed, a feat that earns the firm’s software wizards discretionary bonuses, per the ex-insider. It also means making sure other content “shows up dead-last.”
Like, say, a New York Post report on the Biden dynasty’s dealings with Chinese companies.
In an earlier column, Ahmari wrote about his conversation with the source:
“Facebook is almost an arm of the Democratic Party — an arm of the far-left wing of the Democratic Party.” So said the former Facebook insider as we sat down for an interview at a Midtown restaurant Friday afternoon.
A gloomy rain had left the joint deserted, yet the man across the table from me spoke in hushed tones and looked over his shoulder in between remarks for fear of retaliation. Yet he felt he had to speak out, because staffers are “intentionally trying to swing people further to the left,” as he had put it in an e-mail requesting the meeting.
I already knew that, of course. It was a Facebook communications manager, Andy Stone, who on Thursday announced the firm was reducing circulation of The Post’s still-undisputed reporting on the Hunter Files — an employee who happened to work for Democratic lawmakers before joining the tech giant. What the Facebook insider wanted to impress upon me, however, was how Facebook’s partisan tilt is common knowledge inside the firm.
He had the secret chats to prove it.
So what do Facebook workers think about the company’s handling of our story? The comments speak for themselves:
“[Facebook] employees want Trump to lose,” wrote one user. “If that means rigging [the platform] against him, they don’t care.” The post garnered 29 “likes” from other employees.
“I was shocked that Facebook did this,” said another. “We kinda called [brought] this on ourselves. So much for ‘we are not the arbiters of truth.’ ” That comment garnered 15 “likes.”
Still other comments: “Facebook bets that Biden wins the election. So an effort to jump on the bandwagon.” “Yeah this one is unconscionable. I’m ashamed.” “Imagine if we censored some leaked Trump stuff. It would be the #1 upvoted question tomorrow for Mark [Zuckerberg company-wide]’s Q&A.”
So could these voices of reason prevail inside the company? The Facebook insider, who shared the Blind comments with me, was pessimistic. “The whole thing,” he said, “is run by super-woke millennials and gen-Xers. This overwhelming majority of people make sure there’s no chance of breaking through the ideological barrier.”
As a Facebook employee, the insider told me, “if you’re left-wing, you can say what you want. But if you’re conservative — or even just apolitical — you have to go on this anonymous app” to speak your mind.
If Bret Weinstein, of all people, is banned from Facebook, no non-woke person is safe. You need to make sure you get all your photos off of the platform, and either get out yourself, or prepare for being banned. The fact that Facebook and other social media companies are so integral to our lives leaves us quite vulnerable to them. From Live Not By Lies:
Why should corporations and institutions not use the information they harvest to manufacture consent to some beliefs and ideologies and to manipulate the public into rejecting others?
In recent years, the most obvious interventions have come from social media companies deplatforming users for violating terms of service. Twitter and Facebook routinely boot users who violate its standards, such as promoting violence, sharing pornography, and the like. YouTube, which has two billion active users, has demonetized users who made money from their channels but who crossed the line with content YouTube deemed offensive. To be fair to these platform managers, there really are vile people who want to use these networks to advocate for evil things.
But who decides what crosses the line? Facebook bans what it calls “expression that . . . has the potential to intimidate, exclude or silence others.” To call that a capacious definition is an understatement. Twitter boots users who “misgender” or “deadname” transgendered people. Calling Caitlyn Jenner “Bruce,” or using masculine pronouns when referring to the transgendered celebrity, is grounds for removal.
To be sure, being kicked off of social media isn’t like being sent to Siberia. But companies like PayPal have used the guidance of the far-left Southern Poverty Law Center to make it impossible for certain right-of-center individuals and organizations—including the mainstream religious-liberty law advocates Alliance Defending Freedom—to use its services. Though the bank issued a general denial when asked, JPMorgan Chase has been credibly accused of closing the accounts of an activist it associates with the alt-right. In 2018, Citigroup and Bank of America announced plans to stop doing some business with gun manufacturers.
It is not at all difficult to imagine that banks, retailers, and service providers that have access to the kind of consumer data extracted by surveillance capitalists would decide to punish individuals affiliated with political, religious, or cultural groups those firms deem to be antisocial. Silicon Valley is well known to be far to the left on social and cultural issues, a veritable mecca of the cult of social justice. Social justice warriors are known for the spiteful disdain they hold for classically liberal values like free speech, freedom of association, and religious liberty. These are the kinds of people who will be making decisions about access to digital life and to commerce.
The rising generation of corporate leaders take pride in their progressive awareness and activism. Twenty-first century capitalism is not only all in for surveillance, it is also very woke.
We are ceding massive power to control the narrative and the country to companies whose internal culture not only despises the non-woke, but which is populated with a generation that increasingly sees no merit to classical liberal values like free speech and fair play.
If you didn’t see last weekend’s Dark Horse podcast with Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, in which they discuss Live Not By Lies at length, please watch it now. These are reasonable liberals who believe in free speech. Spend ten minutes listening to them talk, and you’ll understand at once why it’s so outrageous that Facebook banned Weinstein.
UPDATE: Sorry, a reader points out that I embedded above the Q&A part of Dark Horse #50, not the discussion part. I’ve fixed it now. Thanks, reader, for alerting me.
And, Bret posted this a short time ago: