Commentary: Do you have a moral duty to leave Facebook?

Author: S. Matthew Liao, The New York Times, Published on: 29 November 2018

From the perspective of one’s duties to others, the possibility of a duty to leave Facebook arises once one recognizes that Facebook has played a significant role in undermining democratic values around the world. For example, Facebook has been used to spread white supremacist propaganda and anti-Semitic messages in and outside the United States. The United Nations has blamed Facebook for the dissemination of hate speech against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar that resulted in their ethnic cleansing... [D]o we have an obligation to leave Facebook for others’ sake? The answer is a resounding yes for those who are intentionally spreading hate speech and fake news on Facebook. For those of us who do not engage in such objectionable behavior, it is helpful to consider whether Facebook has crossed certain moral “red lines"... Facebook would have crossed a moral red line if it had, for example... intentionally assisted in the dissemination of hate speech in Myanmar. But the evidence indicates that Facebook did not intend for those things to occur on its platform... we should not place the responsibility to uphold democratic values entirely on Facebook. As moral agents, we should also hold ourselves responsible for our conduct... For now I’m going to stay on Facebook. But if new information suggests that Facebook has crossed a moral red line, we will all have an obligation to opt out.

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