Censoring others isn’t a right …even for private companies

Stumbled onto a comments thread at New York Times about facebook censoring breastfeeding pictures. Just posting this up for reference.

Don’t like that they are banning these pictures? Don’t use Facebook! They would be completely within their rights to ban the color blue in pictures if they wanted to. Stupid, but with their rights.

— Austin

@ Austin

While in the formal wording of the law, Facebook as a service, is a private property which would infer they have the right you say they do to censor anything within their service, the fact is they are far bigger than ‘just a website’. The size, stretch, and *social impact* of Facebook today make it far more comparable to a national postal service, or telephony infrastructure. They have become a ‘public service’, whether they or anyone else likes it or not. Thusly they, ethically (although not yet in law), have responsibilities to diversity and equality, and to not excessively non-consensually impinge on individual service users’ right to live their lives as they wish. And part of those lives is their social interactions, of which Facebook and it’s sister social networks are now a key part.

Would a privately owned electricity distributor be within it’s rights to not provide energy to black people? Would a privatised national postal service be ok to destroy letters that advocated democracy? etc.

By Facebook censoring an wholly positive and unharmful aspect of human life, they aren’t using their private property, they’re unilaterally manipulating global society into their own moral image. Regardless of whether that is a set of morals akin or against your own, the level of influence that Facebook have makes such manuvers grossly unethical.

~jessikat

His comment.

My comment.

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