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It started innocently enough. A Facebook friend (and an actual friend) given to occasionally posting memes of a political nature, chose to post one I have seen countless times before. I am sure you have as well. It is the one that makes light of the “fact” that the federal government took over operation of the Mustang Ranch for back taxes and failed in the process. This time, however, Facebook was offended, blocking the view because “independent fact checkers” had declared it false.
Well, maybe. This particular meme has circulated for some time. It is amusing and innocuous whatever the accuracy. One more posting will not push civilization off a cliff. Nor is it the fact that Facebook chose to block it this time around. One can hardly criticize them for wanting to keep false claims off their website. No, it is the matter in which this meme, and one has to assume many other such items, was handled.
Consider this. Take first that the meme is typical of many in that it oversimplifies what may be a more complex matter and draws a “misleading” conclusion. It would best be ignored, or if something must be done, a comment from an identifiable source might be made.
That is not good enough for Facebook, however. Here we have an anonymous action taken by — who? It could be anything or anyone from a soulless AI bot to Pajama Boy from Paducah, but you know not. Moreover, the “independent fact checker” is not identified and no source for the criticism is presented. It is thus impossible to argue the case whether it were a serious matter or not. I suppose one could make an independent search on the web, but even the redoubtable Snopes seems to have gone to the dark side lately.
Even that is not what should concern us most. Here an accusation is made anonymously, citing an unidentified “independent fact checker” and action is taken without recourse. No one, not any of them, from Zuckerberg on down is uncomfortable with this. In essence, the thought police have accused, tried and convicted without anything resembling due process or real evidence, and no one complains.
Where might this lead? Is this the kind of world we can expect? One would hope not as it is a dark and dismal future if it is.Published in