James O'Brien schools caller who opposes social media regulation after Trump's Facebook ban

6 May 2021, 11:40

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien schools this caller who opposes social media regulation because he would be equally offended if he was "told to get out of the pub" for saying something unpopular.

Caller Nick's reaction came after Facebook's independent oversight board extended Donald Trump's ban for a further six months, citing the "continuing false narrative of election fraud" and the "attack on the US Capitol" as its reasons.

Twitter has permanently banned the ex-President and has said if he were allowed to remain there would be a "risk of further incitement of violence."

The caller told James that he does not think social media should be regulated in the same way as newspapers "because they're not the same thing."

"Social media for me is a way that people can talk to each other - I compare it to the pub. If you go to the pub, I'd be pretty offended if someone came over to me and said I don't like what you're saying, you're not allowed to say that," Nick said.

James questioned: "What if you were encouraging people to drink a pint of bleach in the pub?"

He continued that "that's not even a figure of speech", referencing Donald Trump's suggestion in 2020 that injecting disinfectant intravenously may be a viable Covid-19 treatment.

The caller responded that if he were talking to his friends, they would respond that that is "stupid", to which James pointed out that "you're not talking to your friends on Facebook."

"They might be called your friends but you're talking potentially to tens, hundreds of thousands of people that you're never going to meet," said James.

The caller insisted both that Trump would get "kicked out of the pub", and also that his friends would not drink bleach - to which James pointed out that his analogy "doesn't work."

James continued: "You're not talking about Facebook, you're talking about people that know you and trust on some meaningful level, whereas Facebook allows fake actors, it allows dishonest agents who come as your friend - they're even called 'friend' under the vocabulary of the technology and then they are either punting enormous or dangerous lies or encouraging you to harm yourself.

"In a way encouraging people not to take the vaccine is a potentially dangerous thing."

James pointed out that the suspension of Donald Trump from Facebook was due to his celebration of those that stormed the US Capitol and telling them "we love you."