‘Real Time’ Panel: There Is a Problem With Facebook Deciding What Speech Is Worthwhile

On Friday’s broadcast of HBO’s “Real Time,” CNN Political Commentator Bakari Sellers, host Bill Maher, and New York Times columnist and MSNBC Contributor Bret Stephens said they do have a problem with Facebook determining what constitutes dangerous rhetoric.

Sellers said, “Facebook got it right, and I think it was the easy call to ban these three individuals, but it’s a slippery slope. … I mean, are they going to keep that same energy when it comes to someone like Franklin Graham, who is a Baptist minister, but who is a homophobic bigot, right? But he’s supported by the president of the United States. Are we going to keep that same energy? And my question is, are you going to have three white kids in Silicon Valley who are sitting in a cubicle decide what’s dangerous and what rhetoric they ban and what rhetoric they don’t? And I have a fundamental problem with that.”

Maher responded, “I do too.”

Stephens said, “[T]hey want to ban these horrible people, and they’re all horrible. We all recognize that. But then we’re going to get into a slippery slope, where Facebook becomes the arbiter of what can be said in their digital ‘public square,’ whatever it is, and the idea of this younger man determining what qualifies as worthwhile speech, I think is dystopian and terrifying.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett


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