Petition for Facebook to add a “turn off comments” option to posts.

Petition for Facebook to add a “turn off comments” option to posts.

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Cote Licciardi started this petition to Facebook

Social scientists, psychologists, intelligence officials both in the U.S. and internationally, and investigative journalists are beginning to reach a consensus that platforms such as Facebook are playing a major role in the spread of disinformation, mental health crises, the disingenuous injection of culture-clashing narratives into our society, perpetuating uncivilized discourse, and even contributing the deterioration democratic values among a nation's populous. 

Facebook's failure in avoiding these issues is evident in their constant need to remove fake accounts and bots, official reports which prove that it's platform was illegally hacked or misused by foreign operatives that gained access to what was supposed to be inaccessible user data in order to influence the political views of voters. 

These failures are a result of Facebook's cyber security philosophy which is to attempt to protect users from misinformation spread in comments, groups, and even advertisements that Facebook generates profits from while also avoiding implementing systemic measures which could cause widespread censorship. 

This petition was made to address one of several gaps existing in their cyber-security philosophy. It is Facebook's choice as a private social media company to allow hate speech, harassment, and other forms of expression from both real people and bots, but if Facebook takes this approach, the company should at least empower its own users that have become reliant upon the platform to have more discretion over how users interact with content that the post onto their platform. Measures like these is the only way Facebook can sustain it's claims that it is actually attempting to implement meaningful safeguards into its platform, if even they must be enforced on an individual basis by its users. Lastly, changes like these would lend Facebook some credibility over it's assertions that it is merely a platform for its user-publisher, and not just a data-mining company that appropriates user-published and appends it to the published-content of either bad-faith internet trolls or the supportive rants of their fan base. 

This petition is to allow a user to disable the commenting function under their own posts. 

This is not a petition to implement a feature that may censor a separate user’s ability to comment on posts directly made by said user, or their ability to "share" then comment on content that was published by a user that disabled commenting on their own post.

So-called "cancel culture" is not at issue because the proposed feature does not seek to censor any established opposing viewpoint. 
This proposed feature would allow content creators to choose whether or not to append public commentary onto their own posts only. 


Facebook alleges to be a "platform" for publishers as opposed to being a publisher or news media organization themselves.Facebook’s status as a platform affords the social media company some legal leniency compared to a news media publisher. Facebook asserts that it is the users, not them, who publishes content onto their platform. Therefore, Facebook is not held legally responsible for misinformation published onto it's platform. 

Facebook's status as being only a "platform" is becoming evermore debated as Facebook continues to expand its reach into our everyday lives, political landscape, and our global cyber culture. 

Because Facebook considers the individual user and the content that they upload as being the content of individual publishers that exists: Facebook should allow  publishers the additional, limited freedom over allowing public commentary on content they directly publish onto their news feeds, Facebook Wall/Timeline, and inside of groups they are members to. 

The feature should be made available on an individual-post basis, and not merely a feature that either totally disables commenting or allows it on a given post.  

Adding a “turn off commenting” feature benefits both the individual user-publisher and Facebook for the following reasons: 

1. The feature would not interfere with Facebook’s goal of protecting free speech on its platform because the feature would not prohibit publishers from publishing their own opposing viewpoint(s) to their audiences on their own news feeds, joined groups, or Timeline.  

2. The feature would add a preemptive safeguard against online bullying, harassment, and trolling for protecting users, their children, and simply for their ability to post content without having to append the thoughts of users that were not a part of the process in making that content. 
The feature in and of itself is a politically-neutral proposition.  It would not favor or disadvantage to any political position or ability for someone to express speech within their own domain on the Facebook platform, or their ability to publish their own content.


3. The feature would limit liability to Facebook and its user-publishers who are—or may become at risk of, being accused of spreading:

i. misinformation;
ii. political propaganda;
iii. spam
iv. hate speech

by taking a reactionary approach to enforcing its policy over content appended onto other user's posts, often that of bad-faith actors, operatives, bots, and/or fake user accounts.


Facebook is a private company, thus possesses a unilateral right to censor speech on its platform. Facebook chooses not to, or to do so minimally. Because Facebook chooses to limit its ability to intervene systemically so as to protect speech, it makes sense for Facebook to grant its users the limited, narrow liberty to disable comments. 

This proposition does not violate Facebook’s minimal intervention stance on censorship, nor imposes upon the company's will to avoid negatively impacting its user's ability to connect and freely publish their own content in the way that Facebook users want to. Actually, the feature would help Facebook avoid accusations of enforcing it's guidelines in a politically partisan way.

Facebook has the resources and discretion to implement this feature in a short amount of time. Facebook should do so immediately, for the sake of enhancing user-publisher freedom, the quality of their user-publisher’s social media experience, online security, and in order to stand by its commitment to fight misinformation, harassment, the deterring of foreign operatives sharing narratives in bad-faith 

Publishers across the web and on other platforms enjoy the freedom to either allow or not allow commenting on the content that they elect to publish on their own platforms, therefore Facebook’s politically-neutral platform should also grant individual user-publishers the ability to individually-limit commentary on content that was directly posted by the user-publisher. 

 

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