Texas Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) criticized Facebook on Twitter Saturday for banning InfoWars founder, Alex Jones from the social media platform.
“Am no fan of Jones — among other things he has a habit of repeatedly slandering my Dad by falsely and absurdly accusing him of killing JFK — but who the hell made Facebook the arbiter of political speech? Free speech includes views you disagree with,” Cruz wrote.
According to reports, Facebook banned Jones for 30 days because of video content that violated the social media platform’s Community Standards.
“Our Community Standards make it clear that we prohibit content that encourages physical harm [bullying], or attacks someone based on their religious affiliation or gender identity [hate speech],” a spokesperson said.
In addition, YouTube also recently banned InfoWars temporarily for content that violated the site’s standards.
In April, social media personalities Lynette Hardaway (Diamond) and Rochelle Richardson (Silk) accused Facebook of bias and of limiting their reach on the platform.
“Facebook censored our free speech and shame on the ones that don’t even see that we have been censored! If the shoe was on the other foot and Mark Zuckerberg was a conservative and we were liberals, all fences and all chains would have broke loose. You know it and I know it,” Hardaway said during a hearing on Capitol Hill.
However, critics argue that Facebook is not legally obligated to give equal treatment to both conservative and liberal opinions.
“There are, however, ethical and financial reasons for doing so that carry as much weight, if not more, than legal requirements,” writes James Langford.
“But while all Americans have a First Amendment right to say what they want without government interference, they don’t have a right to amplification of their voices by Facebook or any other private firm, New York Law School’s Waldman told Congress, reflecting the Supreme Court’s logic four decades earlier.”
In a July 18th interview with Recode, Zuckerberg said he wants to allow the public to have a voice on his platform while also making sure the community remains a safe place for users.
“We’re not gonna let people plan violence or attack each other or do bad things. Within this, those principles have real trade-offs and real tug on each other. In this case, we feel like our responsibility is to prevent hoaxes from going viral and being widely distributed,” he commented.
“I want to make sure that our products are used for good. At the end of the day, other people blaming us or not is actually not the thing that matters to me. It’s not that every single thing that happens on Facebook is gonna be good. This is humanity. People use tools for good and bad, but I think that we have a clear responsibility to make sure that the good is amplified and to do everything we can to mitigate the bad.”