Grants:IdeaLab/Slanderous denunciation

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Slanderous denunciation
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RaduBT
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created on16:55, Friday, June 3, 2016 (UTC)


Project idea[edit]

Abusive reporting used to harass users. Facebook comparisons.[edit]

Slanderous denunciation in court is the key.[edit]

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 Two years ago, in 2014, I had the 'pleasure' to experience this type of harassment myself, but on Facebook. I posted several articles where Reuters reporters were threatened and shot at in Ukraine, and links about the referendum in Crimea. Very soon my wall was flooded by a lot of new accounts trying to discredit me in anyway they could. My profile was reported and for several months pictures were taken down by Facebook, because they were considered "spam" or "offensive[1]".

"During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act", as Orwell said. Given the current Senate investigation of FB practices, and European response, any moderator should be aware of the practices use by some countries (for example Russia) who use your website to spread propaganda, lies, on purpose and with actual malice.

The notions of "substantial truth[2]", "actual malice[3]" are critical nowadays. 'A truth that's told with bad intent / Beats all the lies you can invent[4]", as William Blake said. People died to defend this right. It was not a small matter: that's why the First Amendment of the US protects this right from the start. There is a reason why they put it right on top. 

The were at least 12 discovered hubs of people working 12 hours per day in Moscow, with fake accounts and fake profiles, with the only purpose to discredit and attack anyone daring to say anything bad against Putin and Russian invasion of 2014. Many more are in Europe, and are used for specific NGO's campaigns who depend of this public exposure, reach and engagement to obtain their financing. That is dangerous, as this type of abuse and virtual harassment is nothing new, but now they have incentives and massive public grants on the line. Sometimes they use the report tool to close other accounts. I personally had many topics closed in this way, on Facebook, even innocent jokes, only because some of them hated what I've said. I let them hate me as they want, but their online harassment needed to be stopped.

This type of abuse was acknowledged by the European Union who started a program to counter this new type of electronic war. Official EU and NATO use the terms 'disinformation' and/or 'propaganda' for this. According to the June 2015 Action Plan on Strategic Communication, the EU should be prepared to 'anticipate and respond to disinformation relating to the EU'. In November 2015, the East StratCom Task Force (a new communication unit under the European External Action Service) launched the weekly 'Disinformation Review', in which they publish and thwart Russian 'disinformation attacks'

One could see a partial list of their purposefully acts of misinformation here: 

http://eeas.europa.eu/euvsdisinfo/news/index_en.htm

Poland, Baltic States and East Europe have a site as well: http://www.infowar.cepa.org/index/

According to Section 5 of Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, they oblige anyone to sign that they will be respectfully "Protect Other People's Rights". The overuse of FB features to harass users is not a right. When it's done with "actual malice" this could be brought to a court. If someone is feeling "harassed", "offended", let them harass the authors in court. Because there they can accused back of slanderous denunciation[5], and have it if full. For example, in Belgium, the crime of "calumnious denunciation" (Article 445) is punished with 15 days to six months in prison, plus a fine[6].

The abusive tactics used by Russian propaganda machine is nothing new, they find this suppression very helpful. This fact that was not only admitted by NATO and European Allies, but there is a part of a military strategy against totalitarian regimes. There are many laws and International Agreements defending this freedom of speech. In the western culture, this is illegal. They are trying to eliminate the very first foundation of western civilization: the freedom of speech. 

Sometimes removing a specific type of content is necessary, because just as Solon said, a long time ago, "without law there can be no freedom". So just as it is the case with a Constitution vs Anarchy, a careful amount of regulation is required. It's not easy. On Facebook, I am thankful to the admins, as they all deserve much higher wages for the visual trauma and beheadings they see every day. But at the same time, they really need to leave the political stuff to others. There are major cultural differences that sometimes are not easy to understand even by experts - "freedom of speech" is a very vast subject. It includes the "freedom to offend", when the allegations are TRUE. Even the United Nations Commission on Human Rights said the "Penal defamation laws should include defense of truth", regarding the Philippine 2012 libel law (where most of the FB moderators reside). I know that in the Philippines, truth alone is not a defense. In Russia is the same story. But we in Europe struggled a lot to have this, people died for this right. Yet many people around the world don't know what it is.

Of course no one likes to see people dying. That's a mental illness, it's called psychopathy. No one likes to talk about rapists, crimes, stabbings. But any moderators needs to understand why under English common law, proving the truth of the allegation was originally a valid defense. If we say about Muslims or Palestinians stabbing on the street that is not "racist", "islamofobic" content. Only "actual malice" is subject to sanctions, not the doctrine of "substantial truth".

That was central to the recent debate about Facebook deleting conservative news. No one like to share those stories. But we need to remember why sometimes, "the person who dared to say that 2+2=4 was punished by death" (Albert Camus). "Freedom is the right to say two plus two make four. If granted, all else follows." George Orwell - 1984. We know this very well. But many people around the world, don't

If someone feels demeaned or slandered in some way, or if they have the impression that exposing what they say is a form of hate speech, they are FREE to SUE. In this way the matter will be brought to justice and the court will decide.

Solution? Hire moderators with proper training in Constitutional matters. Who understand how hard was for freedom to be protected only in the the Western Hemisphere and why it was the foundation of Christian, western culture. This goes way back to St Maximus the Confessor (who was left without his tongue and right hand - not to speak and write anything), then Roger Williams, who was regarded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, as "the original thought influencer on the first amendment". One needs to understand why the freedom of speech comes second after the freedom of religion, expression or thought. There is a reason they are put in the First Amendment of the US Constitution exactly in this way (or why US was the only country capable to actually defend the rights of everyone, around the globe).

Expand into a Project Grant
(launching July 1st)
  1. "Defamation". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2016-06-01. 
  2. "Substantial truth". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2015-06-05. 
  3. "Actual malice". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2016-03-01. 
  4. "A quote from Auguries of Innocence". Goodreads. Retrieved 2016-06-03. 
  5. "Defamation". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2016-06-01. 
  6. "Defamation". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 2016-06-01.