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Academic Censored and Deplatformed by Facebook for Discussing Totalitarianism

Arvind Datta
Arvind is a recluse who prefers staying far away from the limelight as possible. Be that as it may, he keeps a close eye on what's happening and reports on it to keep people rightly informed.
Published: July 3, 2021
(Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Nicholas O’Shaughnessy, a visiting professor at two London University colleges, has been permanently banned from Facebook. 

On June 26, O’Shaughnessy received an email from the social media platform with the message, “Your account has been permanently disabled for not following the Facebook Community Standards. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to reactivate it for any reason. This will be our last message regarding your account.” No explanation was provided as to what community standards he breached.

The professor contacted Facebook, showing his academic credentials and asked the platform to reconsider their decision, but received no reply. In an interview with Breitbart, O’Shaughnessy stated that he had been writing about authoritarian regimes and individuals, which he believes may be the reason for the Facebook suspension.

In one of his write-ups, O’Shaughnessy had used the words of Adolf Hitler to discuss and condemn the Nazi leader. This, he argues, may have triggered the Facebook algorithm and led to his permanent ban. 

“To actually explain the mechanisms of an evil regime, is not to endorse that regime,” the academic said. O’Shaughnessy found his situation ironic in the sense that a researcher on propaganda and information control ended up being arbitrarily silenced.

It’s not the first time Facebook has been criticized for seemingly arbitrary action. In February, British members of Parliament took Facebook’s co-founder Mark Zuckerberg to task over the platform’s censorship of “pork faggots,” an English delicacy. 

‘A victim of the very thing I write about’

“It is incredible, actually, it is absolutely incredible that I should be a victim of the very thing I write about. Facebook is even worse than the medieval Catholic Church in terms of censorship, it has become Orwellian. It is an empire, a cyber-empire policed by vicious robots, and we are all its victims,” O’Shaughnessy said to the media outlet.

The professor also criticized Facebook censorship of coronavirus discussion among users, saying that the platform has committed “huge” damage to public discourse by completely shutting down talk about the COVID-19 lab leak theory. 

“It is totalitarianism where all you can really do is post pictures of fluffy kittens and use it as a telephone directory, as anything beyond that can get you canceled, which as I have found is frightfully inconvenient,” O’Shaughnessy stated.

On May 26, Facebook changed its position on censoring discussion related to COVID-19 lab leak theories, and announced that it would allow such conversations on the platform.

Facebook censorship of O’Shaughnessy is the latest in a series of controversial actions the platform has taken in the past year against users, which include banning former President Donald Trump while he held his position in the White House, canceling people for talking about COVID-19 origin theories, suppressing users for discussing possible harm of the COVID-19 vaccines, and so on.

In an interview with The Epoch Times, co-founder of the right-leaning web magazine Federalist Sean Davis warned that big tech platforms were using an “Orwellian system” for censorship through third-party fact-checkers which are run by “college kids.” 

Such fact-checkers “shut down information” using the pretense of combating false information, a tactic which he says only serves to “suppress narratives” which the big tech forces find inconvenient.

“So it’s actually a really kind of an Orwellian system and it’s based on the conceit that these big tech social media publishers are not publishers, because under the law, they have to pretend to be neutral third-party platforms, the way the courts have interpreted it, that gives them all kinds of ‘get out of jail free’ cards… And so what they do is, instead of censoring on their own, and taking it upon themselves, they’ll hire outside third-party fact-checkers, and they’ll say: ‘hey, you’re independent’,” Davis said.

Several U.S. states are taking measures to curtail big tech censorship. In May, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law that prohibits the deplatforming of political candidates. The Florida Elections Commission has been empowered with fining such platforms up to $250,000 per day for each deplatformed candidate.