Why I Left Facebook

 

Four years ago a cartoon contest was held in Garland, Texas. Organizers encouraged contestants to draw political cartoons in response to a terrorist attack by Islamic supremacists on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, a Parisian newspaper, in January of 2015, in which a dozen people, including the newspaper’s publishing director Stéphane Charbonnier, were murdered.

This is the winning cartoon, drawn by a fellow named Bosch Fawstin.

 

On May 7, 2015, I posted the cartoon on Facebook, and added the following comment:

This was the winning drawing from the Garland, TX cartoon contest.

Bosch Fawstin, an ex-Muslim, drew the cartoon. As the cartoon suggests, and as Mr. Fawstin said, “I do it because we have been told we can’t.”

Having survived one Islamic supremacist attack, Mr. Fawstin has now gone into hiding.

* * * * *

I encourage everyone to quietly, and even politely, repost pictures of Mohammed. And I think they should do so with a note saying, in effect: “I really don’t care about Islam. I really don’t want to offend Muslims. But too many Muslims have asserted a right to tell me what I can and cannot say about Islam. That is unacceptable to me. It is part of our culture and heritage that we are free to say whatever we like about any faith, any ideology, any idea. And I am not willing to surrender that right, just to avoid offending Muslims. Or Buddhists. Or Hindus. Or Christians. Or even atheists. I am posting this picture to tell Islam that I do not consider it special, and to deny that it has any authority over me.”

Today I received a notification from Facebook. It read as follows:

An important message about your photo
Due to local legal restrictions, we limited access to your photo in Pakistan.

To which I replied, in what will be my last post on Facebook:

Facebook today has a market capitalization of just over half a trillion dollars. If they would rather censor Americans than risk offending the illiberal Islamist regime in Pakistan, then to hell with them. I’m glad I left.

 

Published in Culture
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 39 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Thatcher

    I’m glad I never joined. 

    • #1
    • April 17, 2019, at 12:01 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  2. Member

    It took them four years to notice???

    • #2
    • April 17, 2019, at 12:06 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  3. Thatcher

    Bravo!

    I saw a news item that said Zuckerberg had hired even more guards to protect him. Threats from Islamicists, perhaps?

    No guts. He should go on the offensive, go all “Charlie Hebdo” on them. I’m not familiar with the details of Facebook, but the Zuck should encourage criticism of any religion, and not exclude the only one which would saw his head off if they ever caught him alone.

    • #3
    • April 17, 2019, at 12:30 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Thatcher

    On my personal blog over at RushBabe49.com, I have written more than one post with the title “Islam is Evil”, and gotten no death threats. Yet. And I’m with @josepluma, I never joined Facebook, and never will. You can’t miss what you never had.

    • #4
    • April 17, 2019, at 1:11 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. Member

    Facebook and Twitter are pure garbage. It is so nice to live without either.

    • #5
    • April 17, 2019, at 1:26 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Coolidge

    Henry Racette: Due to local legal restrictions, we limited access to your photo in Pakistan.

    Facebook’s actions seem fair to me. What’s wrong with countries having different public decency laws? The US has tighter rules for advertising alcohol than Canada, does that mean the US is “illiberal regime”? In Germany, people are not allowed to promote Nazism, but that is legal in the US. Does that make Germany an “illiberal regime”? By following this rule in Pakistan, Facebook is not committing any human rights violation, so I am cool that. I am sure all of Henry’s friends in Pakistan can live without this one post.

    My recommendation for using Facebook is to block all news sources that people share from. Then you only get original content from your friends: kid pictures, wedding news, birthday wishes, … Facebook should not be a place to get or share news and opinions.

    • #6
    • April 17, 2019, at 1:31 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  7. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    I don’t like Islam. I don’t dislike Muslims; I certainly don’t hate anyone.

    But I don’t want to be censored for the ideas I express. I don’t mind community standards for vulgarity and so on, but when it becomes important — when people are dying because they’ve expressed ideas other people refuse to tolerate — then that transcends community standards and becomes a matter of free expression and human rights.

    Facebook and Twitter have set the wrong standards.

    • #7
    • April 17, 2019, at 1:31 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  8. Contributor

    What took you so long?! Welcome aboard with all of those who have already rejected Facebook. We’re glad to have you with us!

    • #8
    • April 17, 2019, at 1:33 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  9. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    DonG (View Comment):
    Facebook’s actions seem fair to me. What’s wrong with countries having different public decency laws?

    Nothing is wrong with countries having different public decency laws, Don. But people are murdered by the enforcers of Islamic supremacism. In my opinion, Facebook — and western civilization in general — should trip over itself to communicate that we don’t tolerate that kind of behavior. Instead, like Google, like Twitter, Facebook capitulates.

    • #9
    • April 17, 2019, at 1:34 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  10. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    What took you so long?! Welcome aboard with all of those who have already rejected Facebook. We’re glad to have you with us!

    Thanks. I left Facebook December 31, 2018. Now all I post there are links to my blog posts.

    • #10
    • April 17, 2019, at 1:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Member

    DonG (View Comment):

    Henry Racette: Due to local legal restrictions, we limited access to your photo in Pakistan.

    Facebook’s actions seem fair to me. What’s wrong with countries having different public decency laws? The US has tighter rules for advertising alcohol than Canada, does that mean the US is “illiberal regime”? In Germany, people are not allowed to promote Nazism, but that is legal in the US. Does that make Germany an “illiberal regime”? By following this rule in Pakistan, Facebook is not committing any human rights violation, so I am cool that. I am sure all of Henry’s friends in Pakistan can live without this one post.

    My recommendation for using Facebook is to block all news sources that people share from. Then you only get original content from your friends: kid pictures, wedding news, birthday wishes, … Facebook should not be a place to get or share news and opinions.

    It’s fair but wrong. We should try not to participate in the wrong. Mr. Racette has done well.

    • #11
    • April 17, 2019, at 1:51 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Coolidge

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    It’s fair but wrong. We should try not to participate in the wrong.

    I get that anybody can choose not participate, but what is the standard you are using for “wrong”? Any censorship is OK except drawings of Mohamed?

    • #12
    • April 17, 2019, at 2:10 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    I appreciate the argument that this is “just upholding local community standards.” But there are lots of things forbidden in predominantly Muslim countries, including unshrouded women, homosexuality, and alcoholic beverages. Facebook doesn’t prevent those things from appearing in Pakistan. Why prohibit pictures of Muhammad?

    Could it be because it’s dangerous to publish pictures of Muhammad, even if you live in a non-Muslims country?

    When the west stands up to the threat of violent Muslim censorship, I’ll be much more comfortable with extending a respectful courtesy to those who are offended by images of Muhammad. I use the formulation “G-d” rather than the word spelled out as a gesture of respect to Jews who are uncomfortable with the full spelling of the word. I am not a Jew. But Jews do not kill people for including the middle “o,” and so I am quite happy to engage in this minor bit of self-censorship.

    Let Islam exhibit the same tolerance as does Judaism, and I’ll show it similar respect.

    • #13
    • April 17, 2019, at 2:16 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  14. Coolidge

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    people are murdered by the enforcers of Islamic supremacism. In my opinion, Facebook — and western civilization in general — should trip over itself to communicate that we don’t tolerate that kind of behavior.

    This seems reactionary. If nobody had ever been murdered, would you then be OK with this particular censoring? Probably not. Life is full of slippery slopes and we all draw lines all the time. We happen to draw the line differently here and that is OK. Heck, I don’t know what where my line even is! I am sure we agree that censoring you without telling you would be worse.

    • #14
    • April 17, 2019, at 2:20 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Member

    DonG (View Comment):

    The Reticulator (View Comment):
    It’s fair but wrong. We should try not to participate in the wrong.

    I get that anybody can choose not participate, but what is the standard you are using for “wrong”? Any censorship is OK except drawings of Mohamed?

    It’s wrong for Facebook to get in the habit of responding to such demands for censorship. It helps encourage the habit of doing it in our country, too. Facebook is based in our country and should uphold our standards of freedom in other countries. Yeah, I feel like having a little cultural imperialism on this issue. 

    • #15
    • April 17, 2019, at 2:22 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Member

    My wife created a Facebook account for me. I never learned how to log on to it. After a while, she gave up and deleted it.

    • #16
    • April 17, 2019, at 3:04 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  17. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    DonG (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):
    people are murdered by the enforcers of Islamic supremacism. In my opinion, Facebook — and western civilization in general — should trip over itself to communicate that we don’t tolerate that kind of behavior.

    This seems reactionary. If nobody had ever been murdered, would you then be OK with this particular censoring?

    I’m going to guess that you mean “reactive,” rather than “reactionary:” that I’m reacting to something. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) If so, then yes, I’m being reactive. I’m reacting to what has become the iconic expression of Islamic intolerance: the violent suppression of speech and imagery that Islamic supremacists consider offensive. I think the appropriate reaction to that is to push back against it, and to communicate (see post, above), that Islam is not special in the west, and that its prohibitions are not our prohibitions.

    I mentioned Facebook’s market value for a reason. The company is worth north of $500 billion. They could reasonably point out to Pakistan that they are a U.S. company with an internet presence, and that if Pakistan objects to the content they post then Pakistan can decide how to restrict access to it, but that Facebook will not be a party to that censorship, particularly since this is part of an ongoing conflict between western and Islamic values over which blood has been shed.

    Instead, they chose to censor me in their effort to chase every last rupee. I’m not disputing Facebook’s right to censor content in order to appease foreign tyrants, any more than I dispute Google’s right to participate in China’s oppressive information control, or Twitter’s right to impose its narrow bigotries on everyone not sufficiently “woke.” I acknowledge that right. But I think these oh so progressive companies are surrendering too readily, and on too important an issue, and I don’t want to give them my business.

    Probably not. Life is full of slippery slopes and we all draw lines all the time. We happen to draw the line differently here and that is OK. Heck, I don’t know what where my line even is! I am sure we agree that censoring you without telling you would be worse.

    I agree with all of that. And yes, the “shadow” censoring, as done by Twitter for example, is far worse. I appreciate that Facebook at least had the decency to inform me. That was good. But I still object.

    • #17
    • April 17, 2019, at 3:07 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Reagan

    I understand your irritation. And I’m thinking about quitting Facebook myself (for different reasons). But I think you’re being unrealistic. Global companies have little choice but to comply with a patchwork of divergent laws in the jurisdictions they operate in and Pakistan has notorious blasphemy laws. Those laws are inconsistent with my values, as I assume they’re inconsistent with yours. But if you decide to do business in Pakistan, you’d be well advised to comply with Pakistani law. So Facebook’s real choice is whether to offer its service in Pakistan or not. Given that it does, it seems to me it’s taking the right, and least restrictive, course by restricting material that violates Pakistani law only in Pakistan. They didn’t tell you the post had been deleted, just restricted in a country where it was illegal. We have American laws that aren’t popular in other places as well, but those who come here to do business must comply with them.

    • #18
    • April 17, 2019, at 7:57 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  19. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    I understand your irritation. And I’m thinking about quitting Facebook myself (for different reasons). But I think you’re being unrealistic. Global companies have little choice but to comply with a patchwork of divergent laws in the jurisdictions they operate in and Pakistan has notorious blasphemy laws. Those laws are inconsistent with my values, as I assume they’re inconsistent with yours. But if you decide to do business in Pakistan, you’d be well advised to comply with Pakistani law. So Facebook’s real choice is whether to offer its service in Pakistan or not. Given that it does, it seems to me it’s taking the right, and least restrictive, course by restricting material that violates Pakistani law only in Pakistan. They didn’t tell you the post had been deleted, just restricted in a country where it was illegal. We have American laws that aren’t popular in other places as well, but those who come here to do business must comply with them.

    Facebook need not jettison all values in order to conduct its business. They could afford not to do business in Pakistan. They’re an Internet company: they could leave it to Pakistan to censor the content, and not be a party to it.

    I respect their right to behave badly. But I’m not giving them any more of my business.

    • #19
    • April 17, 2019, at 8:52 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  20. Member

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    I understand your irritation. And I’m thinking about quitting Facebook myself (for different reasons). But I think you’re being unrealistic. Global companies have little choice but to comply with a patchwork of divergent laws in the jurisdictions they operate in and Pakistan has notorious blasphemy laws. Those laws are inconsistent with my values, as I assume they’re inconsistent with yours. But if you decide to do business in Pakistan, you’d be well advised to comply with Pakistani law. So Facebook’s real choice is whether to offer its service in Pakistan or not. Given that it does, it seems to me it’s taking the right, and least restrictive, course by restricting material that violates Pakistani law only in Pakistan. They didn’t tell you the post had been deleted, just restricted in a country where it was illegal. We have American laws that aren’t popular in other places as well, but those who come here to do business must comply with them.

    Facebook need not jettison all values in order to conduct its business. They could afford not to do business in Pakistan. They’re an Internet company: they could leave it to Pakistan to censor the content, and not be a party to it.

    I respect their right to behave badly. But I’m not giving them any more of my business.

    I deleted my Facebook account in January 2015 when they were colluding with the Russian government to interfere in the Russian elections. It was extra work to do an actual deletion.

    I resubscribed last year in order to look at an occasional Facebook page I really wanted to see, but put a notice on my page that I will not friend anyone and will not accept any friend requests. A few weeks ago I edited the hosts file on my Windows computer to block a hundred or so facebook domains. I had seen web pages that were contacting facebook domains for no good reason, and didn’t like it. Now if I want to look at a Facebook page I use my Android tablet. It hasn’t been necessary so far. 

    So I’m not cooperating very much with their business plan.

    • #20
    • April 17, 2019, at 9:21 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  21. Member

    I wish NRplus would move to another platform.

    • #21
    • April 18, 2019, at 4:42 AM PDT
    • Like
  22. Member

    Now that the Boss has left, why bother with Facebook

    • #22
    • April 18, 2019, at 4:10 PM PDT
    • Like
  23. Member

    Vance Richards (View Comment):

    Now that the Boss has left, why bother with Facebook

    Is her quitting Twitter in the cards?

    • #23
    • April 18, 2019, at 4:16 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  24. Member

    I respect your decision, Henry, though I agree with Cato on the specific issue of Pakistan.

    Nevertheless, I decided to keep my Facebook account. I just checked it, probably for the first time in a year. I was happy to see that I still live in Tucson, was born in 1967, and had attended my specific high school, college, and law school. That’s all there is. One profile photo, no videos, no friends, no feed, no ads.

    It did prompt me to add my current work affiliation. Who knows, maybe someone in Pakistan will need a Southern Arizona lawyer.

    • #24
    • April 18, 2019, at 4:27 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Member

    They’re dealing with a difficult issue:

    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/jul/19/facebook-pakistan-blasphemy-laws-censorship

    From which:

    Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has defended the company’s willingness to comply with government censorship requests by advancing “a single guiding principle: we want to give the most voice to the most people”.

    In a 2015 Facebook post, Zuckerberg wrote: “Some people say we should ignore government orders requiring us to restrict people’s voice, even if that means the whole service would be blocked in those countries. I don’t think that’s right … If we ignored a lawful government order and then we were blocked, all of these people’s voices would be muted, and whatever content the government believed was illegal would be blocked anyway.”

    …By next year, whether Facebook cooperates might not matter: Pakistan is in the process of rerouting its internet traffic through China, laying a 500-mile fiber optic cable from the China-Pakistan border to Rawalpindi. Some fear the project will lead to a block of Facebook in Pakistan, similar to the one in China.

     

    • #25
    • April 18, 2019, at 6:51 PM PDT
    • Like
  26. Member

    Zafar (View Comment):
    In a 2015 Facebook post, Zuckerberg wrote: “Some people say we should ignore government orders requiring us to restrict people’s voice, even if that means the whole service would be blocked in those countries. I don’t think that’s right … If we ignored a lawful government order and then we were blocked, all of these people’s voices would be muted, and whatever content the government believed was illegal would be blocked anyway.”

    That’s pretty self-serving.

    • #26
    • April 18, 2019, at 7:44 PM PDT
    • Like
  27. Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    In a 2015 Facebook post, Zuckerberg wrote: “Some people say we should ignore government orders requiring us to restrict people’s voice, even if that means the whole service would be blocked in those countries. I don’t think that’s right … If we ignored a lawful government order and then we were blocked, all of these people’s voices would be muted, and whatever content the government believed was illegal would be blocked anyway.”

    That’s pretty self-serving.

    It’s a very common rationalization that we’ve been hearing for quite a few years now, and it’s one I find repulsive. Facebook could be a greater force for good if it refused to take part in that kind of censorship. However, I would respect dissident voices within the country, if we had some way to get their opinion on the subject.

    • #27
    • April 18, 2019, at 7:56 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    This issue is not merely another local content restriction issue. The subject of Muhammad cartoons is specifically a matter over which Islamic terrorists have attempted to impose their will on the west, with tragic results. In my opinion, this is not an issue on which any American company should yield to Islamic intolerance.

    • #28
    • April 18, 2019, at 8:15 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Member

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    In a 2015 Facebook post, Zuckerberg wrote: “Some people say we should ignore government orders requiring us to restrict people’s voice, even if that means the whole service would be blocked in those countries. I don’t think that’s right … If we ignored a lawful government order and then we were blocked, all of these people’s voices would be muted, and whatever content the government believed was illegal would be blocked anyway.”

    That’s pretty self-serving.

    It is, but is it also a valid point?

    • #29
    • April 18, 2019, at 8:41 PM PDT
    • Like
  30. Member

    Zafar (View Comment):

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    Zafar (View Comment):
    In a 2015 Facebook post, Zuckerberg wrote: “Some people say we should ignore government orders requiring us to restrict people’s voice, even if that means the whole service would be blocked in those countries. I don’t think that’s right … If we ignored a lawful government order and then we were blocked, all of these people’s voices would be muted, and whatever content the government believed was illegal would be blocked anyway.”

    That’s pretty self-serving.

    It is, but is it also a valid point?

    Maybe. But the peoples’ voices are also muted by Facebook obeying the lawful government order.

    • #30
    • April 18, 2019, at 11:22 PM PDT
    • Like
  1. 1
  2. 2