Last week Facebook removed Richard Spencer's pages. The BBC reports that his personal page was removed, as were the pages for the National Policy Institute, an organization that favors a white ethnostate, and Altright.com, his online magazine. All of these are now gone from Facebook, probably as a result of Mark Zuckerberg's appearance before 2 Congressional committees.
Let me be perfectly clear. I don't agree with Mr. Spencer. His white supremacist views offend me. It's also true that his Twitter and YouTube accounts are still there, and both the National Policy Institute and Altright.com have active web sites. He has plenty of access to free speech. But he no longer has access to Facebook. For some reason this bothers me.
I've posted before that if Nazis don't have free speech, I don't have free speech. I think Mr. Spencer qualifies as a Nazi, at least in his racist views. I suspect he was evicted from Facebook because of the bad publicity over the 2016 election, not to mention the riot in Charlottesville. But when offensive speech is censored, it raises the question: who decides what is offensive speech? Also, who decides what platforms are and should be available for public speech?
Removing these pages from Facebook reduces the size of his audience to the people who know how to find his platforms elsewhere; and there seem to be a lot of people these days who never leave Facebook. This is a form of censorship. Is that a good thing?
It's a hard question and I don't have an answer. But I'm not sure I trust Mark Zuckerberg, if he was the one who made the decision, to be the guardian of free speech.