Facebook’s arbitrary freedom of speech definition

Rob den Bleyker is a cartoonist, he was locked-out from Facebook for twelve hours after having uploaded an innocent cartoon that someone found offensive. It is ironic that the bar for what is acceptable speech in social media is set by the least tolerant, at the same time as these services are celebrated for their contributions to freedom of speech – even sometimes supposedly bringing democracy to dictatorships. It is doubly ironic that such a cartoon that would be perfectly normal in any offline publication (or rather any publication with editorial independence and responsibility) is banned from Facebook, where as traditional media’s efforts to stop unauthorized distribution of their content is often considered a threat to freedom of speech. One can only draw the conclusion that freedom of speech is a rubber paragraph, just like the user license agreements that govern our relationships with the online services. These license agreements are of course non-negotiable and it only makes sense that nobody ever reads them. But for the online space to be a real contribution to humanity, we must do better. It is about time that the learnings from traditional media are brought to bear on social media. No more mass distribution without editorial responsibility. No more private censorship. No more arbitrary and obfuscated rulings on acceptable content and random bans. Transparency and independent scrutiny, please.