Facebook abandons free speech
by Dave Winer Wednesday, June 1, 2016

When the web was booting up, in 1996, a law was passed by Congress and signed by President Clinton, called the Communication Decency Act. It was eventually overturned by Federal courts because it was unconstitutional, obviously so -- it basically said the First Amendment doesn't apply to the web. 

All of that was an amazing abandonment by our elected government. A new medium that was already being used for publishing. Blogging was well along on its bootstrap. No First Amendment.  

But that wasn't the biggest betrayal. We waited for print publishers to come to the defense of the web, but they never did. They never said that this was an atrocity against free speech. I would never forget that betrayal of their stated principles simply because the words were being transmitted electronically instead of being printed on paper.

Today's statement by Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, that Peter Thiel would remain on the Facebook board, was another moment like that. 

Facebook could have and imho should have said something like this.

Free speech is essential Facebook's success. We were offended and frightened by the precedent set by our board member and friend Peter Thiel. We've told him that he can no longer be on Facebook's board, representing the interests of the shareholders and the users of our network, because it would say that we support control of other people's speech by rich and powerful public figures. We've always understood that this was possible, but we can't appear to in any way support this power actually being used to silence critics, especially by someone who has a fiduciary responsibility to our company. We chose to end the relationship. Thiel has resigned as a member of Facebook's board, effective immediately.

Instead, like the print publications in 1996, silence. Impossible to understand. Their business does depend on free speech. Clearly they don't understand this.  Ultimately a platform that doesn't fight for freedom can't expect to carry it.