Pushback Against the Facebook Stasi, Part 1

We posted yesterday about protests in Poland against Facebook’s apparent policy of repression against Polish patriots and conservative political groups in Poland.

Now there is pushback against the Zuckerberg jackboots. Even the Polish government is getting into the act.

At this point the question is: Does Facebook’s status as a private corporation exempt it from the responsibility to permit and protect free speech on its site? Or has it become, through its size and ubiquity, the equivalent of a public utility?

The following video from Polish TV shows the politician Marek Jakubiak of the conservative party Kukiz’15 discussing Facebook’s censorship. Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:

Below is a related article from Gazeta Prawna, also translated by Ava Lon. The translator includes this note:

Polish law prohibits desecration or vandalism of religious objects and places (paintings, sculptures, crosses, churches), which may be perceived as diminishing free speech for some.

The translated article:

Deputy Minister of Justice on blocking nationalists on Facebook: In Poland there is no consensus on censorship

November 2, 2016

“In Poland we don’t accept censorship; we will analyze in legal terms, what we can do about Facebook’s blocking of profiles associated with the national movements,” Deputy Minister of Justice Patryk Jaki announced on Wednesday. “It’s outrageous,” he believes.

Activists from national movements reported on Twitter that in recent days some profiles disappeared from Facebook; among others, the March of Independence, the National Movement, the National Radical Camp and All-Polish Youth. Administrators also blocked profiles of activists. Nationalists, who blame primarily employees of the Polish branch of Facebook for the removal, planned a November 5th protest against the Warsaw seat of the social networking site.

Deputy Minister Patryk Jaki stressed on Wednesday on “Signals day” program on Radio Jedynka that Poland is “the cradle of democracy and freedom.” “We don’t accept censorship,” he said.

Asked whether prosecutors should look into blocking of the patriotic pages and pages with a related content, among others the Independence March, the deputy head of the Ministry of Justice replied: “We will analyze what we can do in legal terms, because actually what happens on Facebook, but also on Twitter, is outrageous.”

Inquired whether the prosecution can do anything against a company that is outside the Polish jurisdiction, he said: “Today we’re wondering if we can do something. The possibilities we have are probably limited, but even the ones that we have, I think we should use them.”

“Facebook pages that offend the Catholic Church are allowed, as are vulgar ones, and others referring to Communist ideology, but Polish patriotic slogans are not allowed? Something here is not right, and it absolutely cannot be accepted,” Jaki said.

According to him, “Evidently patriotic Polish pages are often being harassed. Only one type of [FB] page in the political dispute is being harassed (…), and the others, even the most vulgar ones, act freely. Something is clearly wrong with freedom and democracy here,” said the deputy minister. In his view, blocking patriots “is a question for those people who are responsible for these sites in Poland.”

The digitization minister Anna Streżyńska also expressed her opinion, and wrote on Tuesday on Twitter: “Concerning the FB problem, I act as I see fit and reasonable, within the law, and my competence; in order to solve the problem rather than inflame it.”

The Polish League Against Defamation [non-government civil rights organization] published a statement on its website in which it states that “censorship as used by Facebook” is a violation of, among others, Art. 54 of the Constitution, which says that “everyone shall have the freedom to express opinions and to acquire and disseminate information, and preventive censorship means of social communication and the licensing of the press shall be prohibited.” “Because FB operates on Polish territory is obliged to adhere to the Polish legal order,” emphasized the Polish League Against Defamation.

The organization also announced that it filed two notices of a possible crime by Facebook administrators regarding the violation of article 196 CC, which reads: “Whoever disrespects the religious feelings of others, by desecrating publicly an object of religious worship or a place for the public performance of religious rites, is subject to a fine, imprisonment or imprisonment for up to two years.” “Facebook, despite repeated calls from many people, does not delete profiles insulting St. John Paul II, which violates Art. 196 CC,” they justified.

Video transcript:

00:08   The Polish State needs to reassert the rights of Polish people in Poland
00:12   It’s unacceptable that a Western company decides what can be white and red [national colors]
00:16   in Poland, and what cannot. Ladies and gentlemen, we are not talking about jokes:
00:20   someone is forbidding, in Poland,
00:24   pride in being Polish. We don’t accept that. Absolutely not.
00:28   There will be a reaction to the actions of Facebook. This is censorship.

36 thoughts on “Pushback Against the Facebook Stasi, Part 1

  1. These Polish people have pretty much figured out what the problem is.

    Hopefully they manage to actually do something about it!

    • Facebook is a pro muslim, pro democrat party ( no difference ) power. If clinton were elected, FB would be making American foreign policy along with hillary’s financiers in Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
      Try to remember one thing Euro weenies. Trump isn’t going to protect you any longer. Put on your big boy pants, and fight the cultural marxists who rule each and every one of your quivering, knee clasping countries .

  2. The Baron mentioned an interesting approach: to consider FB a public utility with responsibilities to …the public at large.

    Thus, the FEC in this country has rules and regs for television and radio which broadcasters are required to follow. Is FB so very large that it could be considered under those terms?

    Being a Luddite, I don’t have a TV – I’d watch it if I had one and grow more stupid each year. TV is compelling.

    For some, FB is the same way. Addicting, I mean. I can sympathize with that. Cyber-socialization has its solaces…

    There are lots of lawyers in the communications biz. Please keep an eye out for any opinion columns from this group that you run across.

    • So, when a company becomes too successful and big, it is simply nationalized, and returned to the management of its former owners on the condition they follow government policy?

      I hate Facebook passionately, and anytime, one of the alt-stars uses an alternative social network, I’ll join. But, I don’t advocate nationalizing a company with whose policy I disagree. And I know these are harsh words.

      • It doesn’t have to be nationalized to become a publicly regulated utility, like a phone company. Before cell phones, a phone company was a monopoly in a given region, and thus was regulated. Same for electric companies, gas companies, etc.

        Having a monopoly leads to inevitable abuse. And some monopolies are structural, and therefore all but unavoidable. Regulation of them is necessary and inevitable; otherwise consumers suffer at their hands.

        • In researching the early history of the phone companies, you find that there was stiff competition among different phone companies to provide services when phones first became commercial.

          The President of Bell Telephones, Theodore Vail, went to different state legislators, convincing them that phones were “natural monopolies” and therefore subject to regulation. The erroneous idea was that since phone lines had to be physically laid in a network, once a phone company established itself in a territory, it was a “natural monopoly”.

          The deal was, Bell would be awarded monopoly status. In return, it would be regulated as a “public utility”. They got to charge monopoly prices, squeeze out competition, and make fabulous profits, for the price of providing service in some places below cost, meaning below their monopoly cost.

          Facebook, like every other giant in any industry, will fade behind smaller competitors in a few years. The only thing that could hold this up would be for deluded (or bribed) governments to lard the field over with restrictions, serving to raise the costs of participation.

          • I think Facebook will definitely fade out. But whether it will succeed in its social engineering before then is an open question.

            If Merkel is successful in tamping down resistance to her policies long enough for the invaders to reach a critical mass in numbers, then Facebook will be a large part of the reason for her success.

            After that it will fade out, supplanted by some other craze. But by then there will be enough young mujahideen and breeders within Germany to seal the country’s fate.

            AfD represents the resistance, but it is not large enough yet to effect significant change in Germany. In order for it to become a force for change, there would have to be a nationwide conversation with mass participation in order to allow AfD to make its case to millions of ordinary Germans, who (like people all over the West) get their political opinions spoon-fed to them by the TV.

            Such a conversation is not possible. And the manipulation by Facebook is a significant part of the reason why it is not possible.

  3. This is an extremely important battle for the future of free speech. The best thing would be for a Polish entrepreneur to start-up a rival service which would give FB serious competition, or organize a world-wide closing of FB accounts as a protest.

  4. I regret to say that filthy facebook is perfectly well within its rights to deny any service it likes to any person it chooses for any reason or no reason.

    That said, there IS a question of whether they are delivering on their publicly declared terms of service, which they might or might not be. Related, but a different question.

    The uncomfortable reality is that there is no real alternative but to mount an alternative service to facebook which can compete successfully.

    And that’s a development I would welcome.

    Zuckerberg is trash.

    • And what if Facebook suddenly decided to delete the accounts and posts of black users for being, well, black? Are you still sure they would be “well within their rights” to do so??

      Facebook is a private social media platform (as the Baron mentioned, a near-monopoly) – and as such, it has rules to follow, just like any other business…

  5. “Or has it become, through its size and ubiquity, the equivalent of a public utility?”

    Whatever it is, it is through voluntary participation. If anyone has put their financial eggs into that one basket, then that person is to blame and ought to recognize and correct this error.

    What facebook has is a large audience.

    • Yes, it is voluntary. But there are parallels. Suppose your phone company – given that you don’t *need* a phone but like the convenience – was free to listen in on your conversations and cut the connection if you said something they didn’t like?

      FB is a new model; it needs new parameters and some thinking outside the box. That’s why I’ll never join up – it would be an overt approval for totalitarian behavior.

    • It is only voluntary in the sense that having a phone is voluntary. You don’t have to own a telephone, but then you will have to deliver your messages by hand or via a courier service.

      Facebook is currently the only site that provides all the convenient features that people want in one online service. As it happens, I don’t want those things, so I’m not on Facebook. However, most people do want them. This makes Facebook close to a monopoly in providing what is an almost universal public service.

      The phone company is the best analogy. As a publicly-regulated monopoly, the phone company may NOT cut off your service simply because it doesn’t like what you say over the phone. But that is, in effect, what Facebook is doing. So if Facebook were deemed a public utility under the law, it could no longer do that.

      However, there is a corollary to redefining it that way: Facebook would no longer be liable if someone discussed something illegal or provided illegal materials on their page. If you say over the phone, “I’m coming over to your house right now to kill you,” you are legally liable for that threat, but the phone company isn’t. As a public utility, Facebook would receive the same immunity from liability.

      • That’s a very interesting analogy! I’m wondering if there is any law, or legal precedent, allowing (or not) phone companies to bar right or left-wingers from using their services for political purposes? Or would that be deemed to be interfering in the democratic process?

      • Could not disagree more with the Baron. I’ve lived 68 years, and manage to ignore FB, each and every day.
        I don’t need them for business nor pleasure.

      • There are lots of social network alternatives to Facebook. They just don’t allow a huge audience, unless you can bring one in.

        That means that if an auto manufacturer developed such good technology, everyone felt it very convenient to buy them…they automatically become subject to price control, production control, and special affirmative action requirements?

        The telephones were defined as a “natural monopoly”, mostly on the basis that Bell Telephone convinced the government to award Bell a monopoly on the construction of telephone line networks.

        • Yes, I don’t quite understand why “social media” have become so concentrated in Facebook, but that is the case. It used to be that way with Microsoft and operating systems, but all that has changed, so maybe the same thing will happen if the Facebook craze ever subsides.

      • I can confirm the stuff about illegal activity.

        I used to work for an ISP that ran a USENET server, which is sort of like the original Internet forum facility. It’s sort of like the public forum version of email where a message is posted to a newsgroup and distributed to every USENET server. The public can then read the post from any server they’re allowed to access.

        The legal strategy with this was to claim common carrier status so that we didn’t have to be liabale for anything illegal on the server. But this meant that if someone posted child pornography we couldn’t remove it without being liable for removing all illegal material on the server.

        What the admin ended up doing was setting the expiration time to 1 day for the child porn newsgroups. Apparently “prioritizing storage use” didn’t make us liable but we could at least expire it quickly.

        And of course we had absolutely no problem turning over as much server access log information the FBI sent us a subpoena for.

        So anyway, the common carrier status for stuff like Facebook is reasonable because I’ve already seen the law applied to another content storage system.

        This still wouldn’t help that much in countries that lack a decent 1st amendment provision because even if Facebook were able to refuse responsibility for censorship themselves, they could still be compelled to provide government thought police with content administrator accounts capable of deleting posted material. In some countries the censorship burden would just get shifted directly to government agents.

    • “Whatever it is, it is through voluntary participation”

      Try organising a birthday party these days, or get-together, in any other way… like it or not, Facebook is a part of many peoples’ lives – especially if they’re young, and/or at college. I’d imagine getting a 30-day ban for posting something deemed “hateful” would be a real pain for many.

  6. I’m a Polish guy and a regular reader of GoV for many years now. The situation in regards to the March of Independence and in Poland in general is somewhat more complex than one in the West might think. I understand, that one might feel compelled to make a simple analogy between what is happening in the US (Trump movement) or Holland (Wilders) with Poland. But the Law and Justice government here is not exactly the libertarian, free-speech advocating political entity, like the previous ones mentioned.

    General situation. On the bright side, thankfully, the new Polish government has made a strong point of not accepting any immigrants which are coming in tidal waves from the Middle East into Europe. Sadly, it’s about the only thing, or one of the only good things they have done right during the one year that they are in power. The government and the PiS movement in general has, not only according to left-oriented commentators, quite strong authoritarian tendencies. It is quite a strange hybrid of national pride rhetoric and socialist economic thought. Unlike Trump or Wilders the PiS movement has made an enormous amount of social promises to the electorate , which it apparently plans to keep, to the detriment of our economy. Also, the concept of a division of powers, checks and balances, central to any modern-era democracy seems to be a concept quite foreign to these politicians. I understand the sympathy one might feel towards a government in the EU, that stands up to Angela Merkel’s Eurabia plans, but frankly, the amount of damage , which Law and Justice causes, both to democratic institutions in the country and on the level of small and medium businesses (which it completely does not understand and views with socialist suspicion) is enormous. Not all is gold that glitters.

    March of Independence. While the March, during the last few years has managed to become more and more a national pride event, attracting 60-100 thousand people each year, and for the most part ordinary patriotic folks, there are those, like myself, who find the organizers of this enterprise disturbing. The ONR (National Radical Movement) is an organization with a long history. And quite a nasty one. Before WW2 they were responsible for a lot of anti- Jewish initiatives, like forcing Jewish university students to sit in designated areas of the lecture halls, or events like “A Jew-free day” at universities, during which ideologically brainwashed thugs belonging to the movement would beat up Jewish students, who dared to show up during that date. While not formally connected to the Law and Justice party there are personal and also financial links between them. As a patriot, democrat and libertarian, frankly, I’m quite ashamed of these people and feel no ideological connection with them.

    • Thanks for this most informative explanation of the sausage-making in Poland. Is the anti-Semitism at all like it was in pre-war Poland?

      BTW, I have my own intuitive ‘feeling’ about the rise of deep cultural anti-semitism in the parts of Europe that were under Ottoman rule – the horror of the janissaries, which excluded all Jewish boys. I must admit the hatred that would have filled my maternal heart if my boy was taken and the Jewish boys escaped that fate. So many of our cultural manifestations have hidden foundations which persist for millennia afterwards.

      • “Is the anti-Semitism at all like it was in pre-war Poland?”

        While for sure anti-semitism exists, it comes mostly in the form of graffiti by football hooligans, or throwaway remarks or stereotypes, and is hardly ever violent. I’ve read that Poland nowadays is one of the safest countries for Jews in Europe (we can probably have a guess as to the reasons!)

        At the same time, there are lots of Jewish restaurants, and new Jewish museums being opened. Many Poles are getting more curious about the country’s Jewish heritage, and anti-semitism is on the decline. Hopefully this can continue, although the situation’s not helped by the likes of Soros, and those who like to talk about “Polish concentration camps”.

      • “Is the anti-Semitism at all like it was in pre-war Poland?” I agree with Green Infidel for the most part. Anti-Semitism exists among some parts of the Polish society, is very rarely violent but is noticeable, albeit on the decline. Making comparisons between Poland and Western\er countries in this area is risky, because the PC speech regulation is way lower here and so Polish people tend to speak their minds more openly on controversial subjects. I guess this might be a reason that it’s just more visible than in the US or UK. ONR’s and the All Polish Youth movement’s current views are actually hard to fathom, because initiatives like those before WW2 are simply illegal under modern Polish law and would be prosecuted. Views such as these cannot be part of the official program of any party or movement, but it is quite probable that, for many members, they are purely kept under the radar. Both the ONR and All Youth Movement were fringe movements, and socially ignored for the most part, until 7-8 years ago, when Roman Giertych, who had revived the All Polish Youth became a vice-prime minister representing a coalition partner to Law and Justice (PiS). This was possible because both movements had restrained their rhetoric, but one can only guess whether the change is authentic or is just concealing something ugly. In any case it leaves a bad aftertaste.

        Interesting thought about the Jannissary policy. It may be quite true but not necessarily in Poland , which had never been conquered by the Ottomans.

    • A lot of Americans don’t like Trump either, yet they held their noses and voted for him; because the threatening alternative was truly odious and immediate. Support the wider movement. Do not throw the baby out with the bathwater.

      Does the ONR still hold the same views they held before WW2? Do they dominate the wider movement? Do you shut down your entire campaign because some drug lord or David Duke agrees with you? Do you hold yourself “responsible” (for whatever) because such people agree with you on some point?

      As for Trump: Expect him to disappoint some (many?) people who voted for him. He cannot be everything to everyone, and the inherited economic overhang (hangover?) is going to fall on his administration. Trump is going to make compromises with some nasty people . . . to “get things done”. Hopefully, he does not let Neocon Bolton near the Secretary of State portfolio. Giuliani will probably do a good job . . . because the MSM are already “campaigning” against him.

    • Just to clarify: the ONR is ONE of the organisers of the Independence March. It’s co-organised by “Mlodziez Wszechpolska” (the All-Polish Youth). Up until 2011, it was a fringe event – and would have stayed as such, if not for the “anti-fascist” efforts to stop it from happening. I started going to the march that year – partly out of curiosity, and partly because I heard that the German Antifa would be coming. (I had previously lived in Germany, and heard much about what nasty pieces of work they could be). On the march, there were many patriotic songs that were sung, and there was a fiery atmosphere, but I had not heard any anti-semitism, apart from one very small group. (in a very large march).

      And in the next few years, the march only got bigger… currently I’m living in Britain, but would for sure go again, if I were in Poland.

      I’m also not a fan of the ONR, but surely one doesn’t have to be one of them, to realise that there are bigger things at stake?

    • As to the ruling party, PiS, sure I’m not liking their spending tendencies, but what can you say to the majority of people who earn less than around 3500 Zloty (~$1200) per month, on which they have to support a family with young kids, with cost of living rapidly approaching Western countries? (in fact, rents are more expensive in Warsaw than in much of Germany, with around 4 times less earnings).

      Poland has had a low birth-rate for many years – and this is mostly due to the fact it’s so expensive to raise children… with their monthly child benefit payments, PiS is now trying to correct that situation – perhaps it’s not the best way, but it’s a start…

      As for “attacks on democratic institutions” – is this really happening, and is it that serious – or is it just more crocodile tears from the Gazeta Wyborcza-Soros-globalist crowd, who are still ever-so-butthurt after the last election ruined their plans to make Poland take its first steps towards becoming multicultural, PC and sheepishly following western countries towards demographic destruction?

      (I say this as someone who, for most of the past 11 years was anti-PiS, and whose family is fanatically anti-PiS and pro-KOD.)

      • PiS spending tendencies- of course the situation still isn’t good, even though Poland’s GNP per capita has risen amazingly since 1989, there are quite a few charts that prove it. The question is – is socialist-style spending the way the move the economy foreward or to the contrary?

        Attacks on institutions – well I’m not optimistic here, but after one year I’m still willing to give them the benefit of a doubt. Having an MA in law I have to admit, I can see an unhealthy expansion of the executive over the judiciary, and it’s not only about the Constitutional Tribunal. I just hope it stops here and the governnment will concentrate on pending issues and not building some putinesque structure with a national flavor.

        Blocking the muslim wave is a huge thing.

        • “Poland’s GNP per capita has risen amazingly since 1989…”

          No-one doubts that. The trouble is though – cost of living has as well… so which has gone up quicker? The GDP or prices? That is the question…

          As for PiS, I’m hoping too that they’ll stop with their dictatorial tendencies… (Kaczynski though is only a wannabe dictator and a poor man’s Putin, imo). If only because with every attack on institutions, and every planned harsher abortion law or tax increases, they’re alienating more and more people… and once the KOD brigade get their hands on power again, I’ll bet you any money they’ll try to kick-start Poland’s journey towards Multi-kulti. Like Blair, and like Brussels (I don’t mean the EU, but the city – whose deliberate Islamification by a leftist local government over the past 25 years was covered in-depth, in an article here on GoV a few months back).

          I believe PO and Nowoczesna’s voters are decent people, who (for the most part) also don’t want Islam or multi-kulti – but the sad facts are that it’s only PiS, Kukiz and Korwin-Mikke who are prepared to resist such moves… hence it’s most important to keep the others well away from the corridors of power.

  7. All media should be consider public utility, and where audience transcends national borders by any means shall come under local laws and public regulations. As a business controlled by financial interests, the media cannot remain unbiased or free of censorship. Take the late example of UK newspapers being campaigned against by various advocacy groups forcing advertisers to pull their contracts off the newspapers that don’t follow the globalist line. Economic boycott is just another form of censorship. As it seems, countries have and use the power to filter all type of media in relation to their laws, so it is simple to say that a strong nationalist country shall have the positive power to allow dissemination of information as it seems fit, but no, the globalist government considers nationalism very dangerous to its interests and doesn’t allow that, based on the UN rule of left thumb: “we cannot let democracy fall out of the line in the name of the people,” making them the actual rulers over national governments. This no longer can be discarded as mere conspiracy theories,, it’s happening in our faces.

    • Are you saying there should be a law to force advertisers to keep paying for advertisements on a given website/newspaper?

      Now, that would be controversial…

      Given though that the Daily Mail is one of the biggest media groups in the world, I doubt its chiefs are losing too much sleep over the Lego boycott. And lately, I’ve noticed that it’s the Mail’s arch-enemy, the Guardian, which is desperately asking its readers for financial assistance 🙂

    • So, you would give the government the power to regulate and censor speech as long as it’s (nationalist) speech that you like.

      So, what’s your contingency plan for when a government is in power that supports an idea to which you’re opposed?

  8. Poland is going to prosecute Facebook for not allowing totally free speech on its pages. It will prosecute Facebook for allowing criticism of Catholicism on its pages.

    This really makes me want to let the Polish government be the one to protect my freedom of speech through nationalization powers when a corporation becomes too large.

    • That is like picking favourites among demons.

      Governments can be bought . . . and corporations have money. None of these is staffed by impartial angels.

      Any power that claims to confer “rights”, can also revoke those “rights”, and such rights (for the “winners”) invariably come at the expense of someone else (the “losers”). This is what governments do.

      You are born with natural rights. Denying those rights (freedoms) is a violation of natural law. Sometimes (almost always) a government will behave like a criminal . . . often on behalf of those who bought – and own – it. Never forget this.

      • Sorry. I’m not a fan of the “natural rights” concept. It’s like pulling rights out of your ears. There’s no reason for it, other than someone decided they should be called “natural rights”.

        There are rights we agree in US culture that are desirable, and under the Constitution, inviolable. That’s a rational system, as opposed to a priori “natural rights”.

        The concept of rights is also dependent on the population. Chances are, certain “rights” are dysfunctional for black Africans or Muslims. Muslims do better under a strong, authoritarian government that suppresses their strong tendency to theological murder.

        • I suspect you’re overthinking the concept of natural rights.

          To me, it’s glaringly simple: There is only ONE right . . . property. The first thing you own is yourself. Beyond that, you may own justly acquired goods (including contracts). In all cases, the use and disposal of property (ownership) has to reside with the individual owner. All of this is pretty much captured by items six through ten of the Ten Commandments.

          There is no need to pull this out of any orifice. There is no need to formally agree on it with other people. There is no need for a constitution. Every human is born with this natural right. Any denial of this right amounts to a crime:
          Theft, slavery, murder . . .

          The record of denial of the right to property is also the sordid story of humanity and the suffering we inflict on one another.

          You can judge Islam by this a priori standard . . . without ever mentioning the U.S. Constitution.

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