Tag Archives: Facebook thought-police

Yvette Cooper wishes to abdicate government responsibilities


Grumpy has previously made arguably unfair comments about Yvette Copper, who in spite of being very smart, makes proposals that might be viewed as both authoritarian and unworkable.

An example might be her current war (as Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee) with the social media companies.

YC effectively wants Facebook and their ilk to ‘police’ social media and remove (presumably) illegal content from their systems. By what right does she seek to abdicate the role of government and outsource policing to a private (and indeed, foreign) corporation ? It’s breathtaking in concept.

If something is ‘illegal’, it’s up to the police and the CPS to prosecute the publisher, not Mark Zuckerberg. Anyway, that’s down to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, and not YC. ‘Illegal’ means that something has been held to be such in a court of law, and not at the behest and judgement of Facebook.

When YC says that she doesn’t understand that some content (which she presumably believes breaches the law) has not been taken down, surely she should address that question to Ms Rudd, who seemingly is not doing her job.

YC asked a Facebook employee in Committee  “I’m kind of wondering what we have to do. “We sat in this committee in a public hearing and raised a clearly vile anti-Semitic tweet with your organisation.”

Yvette, the issue is not whether you (or grumpy) thinks it is vile, but whether its publication broke the law. If is was illegal, report it to the police and the law of the land will take its course. If it was not illegal, and just upsetting to a class of the populace, that’s democracy and freedom of speech. People can and do say things with which others disagree and possibly find upsetting – but banning that is censorship, possibly by a minority and possibly by the Executive … and then we are in China, not the UK.

The whole  approach raises many thorny issues, about which there needs to be an informed and not hysterical debate.

Is Facebook a ‘publisher’ or a communications company, like BT ? It moves data from a source to a destination, and generates no direct content.

There is a short step to seeking to remove content which cannot be held to be illegal in a court of law, but which which some entity (Facebook, or the government) doesn’t like. Maybe pro-Brexit content might be banned because it clearly (In YC’s view)  harms the economy?

Like all politicians, YC loudly vocalises (generally topical) problems for political purposes, and proposes solutions which possibly sound convincing but have insurmountable technical or economic barriers, and generally potentially serious unexpected side-effects.

James Joyce in Ulysses had the expression for this … “all wind and piss”.