January 10, 2017   |   Carey Wedler
The popular satire page, God, has earned over three million followers for its tongue-in-cheek approach to Christianity. The page has drawn social media outrage before for its support of homosexuality and its ongoing criticism of Donald Trump, to name a couple of examples.
God, which is a verified Facebook page, made a post on the social media platform last week amid congressional Republicans’ move to repeal Obamacare. The page made the same post on Twitter, where it remains:
But God has far more followers on Facebook, and that’s where the post was banned. After two days, the owner of the page, who chooses to remain anonymous, received notification the post had been removed.
As online magazine Good noted, the page “wasn’t just banned from posting on the God page for 30 days, but anywhere on Facebook. No commenting or posting anywhere on their personal page, or that of any of their friends’ pages as well.”
The operator of the page, who describes himself as “an entity only willing to be known as ‘God,’” discussed how this happened:
“I posted this opinion on the day it was announced that Obamacare will be defunded and 24 million people will lose their healthcare. The opinion goes viral, gaining over 100,000 likes and 15,000 shares. A few hundred people disagree with the opinion. Rather than move on, or even use the ‘angry’ reaction face, what do they do? They report the opinion as being offensive.”
But this was not a grand conspiracy on the part of Facebook to stifle dissent against military spending. “Obviously, it’s a machine algorithm,” God said. “Obviously, my opinions are not for everyone. But I have just as much a right to speak my mind as Orange Hitler does.”
Still, God’s banned post also highlights a deeper issue that is seldom discussed in U.S. politics: whether it’s billions in military spending, building a giant wall, or paying for someone else’s education or healthcare, millions of citizens will inevitably disagree with aspects of government conduct — but they will be forced to pay for them via taxation, anyway. God’s assumption that Americans have the ability to decide how their tax dollars are spent reveals a false perception that government represents the people — one that is especially misguided in an age where American militarism and many other destructive policies are wholly bipartisan and therefore unaffected by elections — the only means of “representation” and choice voters have.
Regardless, it appears most still adhere to this persistent myth and will go out of their way to shut down discussions that contradict their own biases. Though God’s case wasn’t rooted in a top-down scheme to censor dissent, it’s arguably more concerning that swathes of Facebook users were able to amass enough complaints to ban the post on their own. Facebook users already fall victim to “filter bubbles” and almost always see content they agree with, but this algorithmic approach is heavily bolstered by their apparent desire to see content they like and to stifle content they don’t.
This is a new frontier of censorship — one that is crowd-sourced rather than imposed by machinating power players. Unpopular opinions, even those of ‘God,’ are now being crushed online by the offended masses — all in a forum where free speech is supposed to be sacred.
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