Who’s Doing the Blocking?

Yoram Hazony has a book coming out—The Virtue of Nationalism—that he wanted to advertise on Facebook.  Fat chance.  After he accepted Facebook’s Boost Post process, he got some boosted postings of his book, and then he got

Your ad was not approved because your Page has not been authorized to run ads with political content.

Never mind that the book is a history of the rise of the nation-state and a comparison of nationalism with imperialism.  Doesn’t matter.  It’s about nationalism, and so it’s political.

Hazony wrote an op-ed in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal outlining his ultimately failed effort to get Facebook to let him promote his book on that social medium. The sub-headline on that piece summarizes the problem from Hazony’s perspective:

The robots won’t let me advertise my book on nationalism

His concern is mis-aimed, though. Hazony’s book advertising is not blocked by any Facebook algorithm (“robot”); it’s being blocked by Facebook’s management team. Facebook’s algorithms only do what they’re programmed to do. Facebook’s management team employs the programmers who program the algorithms, and those programmers are only doing what their bosses have employed them to do.

Facebook’s censorship is the direct result of instructions from Zuckerberg and his senior management team members.

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