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Oct 06 2013

Mike Shaver doesn’t want his “tastes” mandatory

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.

 

23 comments

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  1. 1
    Rational Feminist

    Saying this isn’t a threat is complete horseshit. It is willfully ignoring a dangerous and threatening reality.

    What happens when someone takes this to the next step? She didn’t do enough to protect herself – victim blaming.

  2. 2
    smhll

    Expressing the idea “Hey, lets talk about whether we’d be delighted if this person died” is pretty, fucking distasteful.

    If someone posted similar stuff on say a conference twitter feed (or hashtag) during the event it would clearly be harassment in my book.

    This is a level of obnoxiousness I would personally like to be able to block.

  3. 3
    Aratina Cage

    Shaver doesn’t get context very well, does he. Remember that cop who got arrested for planning out a huge cannibalism fantasy against women? Shaver is supporting that kind of behavior as well with those tweets. There has to be a line drawn somewhere on these things; it’s ridiculous to pretend there isn’t.

  4. 4
    michaelnam

    I did tweet him that regardless of his “disclaimer” about not speaking for Facebook, by default as an employee commenting on policy and products, he was. This is pretty much a given in any employment situation.

    Of course, when you look up Shaver’s bio, he also got in trouble for going off-message at Mozilla as well. Something that he was hopefully reminded of when he finally apologized.

  5. 5
    maudell

    I think we now know the loophole: harassers can issue any threat as long as they add a question mark at the end.

  6. 6
    R Johnston

    I think we now know the loophole: harassers can issue any threat as long as they add a question Cavuto mark at the end.

    FTFY.

  7. 7
    Ophelia Benson

    Remember that cop? No, I never heard about that cop. (I think.)

  8. 8
    rnilsson

    Should Mike take a Very Close Shaver in a Certain London-based Pi-ous Musical?

    Just asking a question, so no need to cut my throat.

  9. 9
    Ophelia Benson

    Convicted. So the “just a fantasy” defense didn’t fly.

  10. 10
    rnilsson

    In the remote case it could offer someone some small consolation, for my part I find Mike Shaver BOTH a joke and a threat.

  11. 11
    rnilsson

    PS. Also tasteless. Not eatin’ his pie!

  12. 12
    Al Dente

    Aratina Cage @3

    Valle was found guilty and was given a life sentence. He’s appealing the conviction.

  13. 13
    Richard Langellotti

    All the more reason I am pleased to never have made a page for myself or my business on Facebook. Their privacy policies are a joke, and, clearly, so are all their other policies. If there was a page like “Should (my name) be murdered” on Facebook, I sure as hell would take it to be a criminal threat, enough to contact the state police, and, while they were fiddling with it, I would hunt down the people responsible for said page and teach them that they should have murdered me before I got to them.

    It is not a criminal act (at least in America, unless ALEC gets its way) to exercise your free speech rights. It is a criminal act when that “free speech” impinges on another’s right to the same or their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. For this reason, most, if not all, religious organizations should be held in violation of peoples’ civil rights (OK, off topic, there, but I couldn’t resist).

  14. 14
    Ophelia Benson

    Not really off-topic, especially in light of the latest post.

  15. 15
    thephilosophicalprimate

    Remember my comment about the clueless, callous-sounding, monumentally stupid autoreply? Meet Matt Shaver, the sort of clueless, callous, monumentally stupid human responsible for that autoreply. Jeesh, what a tool!

  16. 16
    G Pierce (Was ~G~)

    I doubt the secret service would find a similarly titled page using the president’s name merely distasteful.

  17. 17
    Stephanie Zvan

    Since this is all a bit hard to follow on Twitter, I put a bunch of it into a Storify: http://storify.com/szvan/mike-shaver-does-facebook-pr

  18. 18
    idahogie

    The following comment was repeatedly deleted by Facebook, and I received 12-hr suspensions each time (the person I was addressing is opposed to nondiscrimination ordinances for LGBTQ people):

    “Again, 20 years from now we will all look back on people like you and wonder how you could have existed at all. You will be look at exactly like we look at those privileged, white southerners who lined the streets to scream hate a little black girls walking in their Sunday dresses to newly desegregated schools.

    “I hope you’re proud of yourselves, because your grandchildren will be ashamed of you.”

    Every time I posted that (the first time, and then afterwards in various places including my own page, with an appended question asking what was possibly in violation of Facebook community standards) I was banned almost immediately.

    There is something very wrong with Facebook’s moderation process.

  19. 19
    Brony

    So when does the “Should Mike Shaver be murdered” facebook page go up?

    I not serious of course, but I would be interested in seeing his reaction.

  20. 20
    iknklast

    Well, at least it gives me another logical reason when people insist I “need to be” on Facebook for whatever purpose they are promoting. I don’t need to be on Facebook. I would rather have no social life at all than be associated with the people that run that site. Between this, and Facebook’s support for policies that are very destructive of the environment we all depend on to survive, I think I’ll continue to say thanks, but no thanks to every invitation a friend sends me to join Facebook and be their friend. I’m already their friend; do I really need Facebook for that?

  21. 21
    Ophelia Benson

    Great job with the storify, Steph.

  22. 22
    Jafafa Hots

    Facebook banned me for life for using the name “Jafafa Hots,” even won’t allow me to sign up again under the name I was given at birth.

    Apparently calling yourself Jafafa Hots must be illegal somewhere.
    Or maybe just far, far more distasteful than saying someone should be killed.

    Mike Shaver is amoral, totally full of shit and a perfect representation of the Facebook corporate culture.

  23. 23
    Kagato

    Even if one accepts his claim that the statement “Should X be murdered?” is not a threat (which of course I don’t!), the page was reported for “bullying and harrassment”.

    Is he saying that it also doesn’t meet the standards for bullying and harrassment? Because that alone should be sufficient to get it pulled.

    Why is he arguing about its status as a threat, if the page should be withdrawn on more general grounds anyway?

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