So as I mentioned, this Mike Shaver, an engineering director at Facebook – he generated a whole bunch of tweets last night explaining that the title of the Facebook page, Should named person be murdered?, was not a threat. Offensive, yes, tasteless, yes, but not a threat.
A small sample of his explanations, in chronological order.
Mike Shaver @shaver
[to Miri and a couple of other people] I was disputing your point of it being necessarily a threat. law on threatening statements pretty clear here, IMO
[to Miri and a couple of other people] to be clear, I find the page title offensive too, but I don’t want my tastes mandatory for 1B people either
[to someone else] I aim to please. do you have a specific example of a *threat*? title def wasn’t. maybe incitement, I think probably not
[to Improbable Joe] what am I promoting, exactly? I’ve said that I find the title distasteful, and why IMO the SRR doesn’t consider it a threat.
[to Improbable Joe] someone should be allowed to say “I want to kill Mike Shaver” on the Internet. It’s happened before. It’s not a threat.
[to Miri and a couple of other people] that I disagree about whether those words are a threat seems an unusual basis for this scale of reaction, no?
[to Miri and a couple of other people] the page title was offensive, I say over and over. offensive doesn’t mean a threat.
This is very confused stuff.
The subject is not arresting people or prosecuting them; the subject is Facebook removing pages. The bar is lower for the latter than it is for the former. One of his first tweets on the subject, the first one I quote, cites the law, but the law isn’t the issue.
Calling it a matter of “taste” or “offense” trivializes it. It’s not just “bad taste” to set up a Facebook page with multiple posts that natter about murdering a real person. It’s not just “offensive” to do that. (Shaver kept insisting he was talking only about the title, but in that case he should have said nothing at all; nevertheless the title itself was threatening.)
Facebook’s removal of a page doesn’t make anyone’s “taste” mandatory. People’s freedom to say “I want to kill X” on the Internet does not depend on Facebook. There are places on the Internet that aren’t Facebook. Facebook doesn’t have to allow people to have “I want to kill [named person]” or “should [named person] be murdered?” pages in order for people to be free to express their desire to kill someone on the Internet.
If what Shaver says bears any relationship to Facebook policy – which he kept insisting it doesn’t, but then why did he speak up in the first place? – then they badly need to rethink what they’re doing. At the very least they should remove all those stupid claims about Safety and No bullying or harassment, because they’re fraudulent boasts.