Skip to comments.Gun-Rights Activists Who Posted Gun Files Say Facebook, Amazon Have Censored Their Site
Posted on 08/09/2018 3:15:55 PM PDT by markomalley
A coalition of gun-rights groups that published the gun-design files at the center of the case against 3D-printed gun pioneer Cody Wilson told the Washington Free Beacon on Tuesday that Facebook and Amazon have attempted to censor access to the website hosting the files.
Brandon Combs, president of the Firearms Policy Coalition, told the Free Beacon that links to CodeIsFreeSpeech.com have been blocked by Facebook, and Amazon has taken the site down from its servers. The website, which has republished the gun-design files at the center of the Wilson case, is a joint project of the Firearms Policy Coalition, Firearms Policy Foundation, Calguns Foundation, and California Association of Federal Firearms Licenses. Combs said publishing the files was within their First Amendment rights and the actions taken by employees at the tech giants is an attempt to censor them that he believes may have wide-ranging consequences.
"It was humans involved with Amazon just like in Facebook," Combs said. "This is not an algorithm-based issue, they were making human policy decisions. And the issue at Amazon is not done yet. It's been escalated, and frankly I think many enterprise-clients view this as troubling because [its one thing] if you have legal speech that is simply protected and somebody files a complaint, but if its just as simple as saying unwanted content' to take down an instance at AWS [Amazon Web Services], then nobody's safe."
An email from Amazon Web Services to the group warned that they must remove a file containing the designs of Wilson's single-shot .380 Liberator pistol or their site would be taken down.
"We've received a notice regarding unwanted content hosted on your AWS resources," the email said. "A copy of the complaint identifying the content in question is included below. Please review the attached notice and take appropriate action."
Amazon then took down the servers hosting the site. Combs said it did not cause an interruption in service for the site, though, since the group had planned for potential action from Amazon and was in the process of migrating the site to new servers when the takedown happened.
"We were already moving so we were already starting on an AWS instance and we had already started migrating all of our stuff," Combs said. "We have multiple servers now. Their takedown literally said unwanted content.' I guess if unwanted content is enough to get an AWS instance shutdown then I don't know how Amazon is going to sell that to their customers but we were already moving."
The site remains live as of this publishing. Links to the site shared on Facebook, however, appear to be blocked.
"Facebook did not just block CodeIsFreeSpeech.com prospectively. Facebook forced a company-wide (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram) takedown of content about and inclusive of CodeIsFreeSpeech.com," Combs said. "Facebook banned the URL throughout their products. I even tried to setup Facebook for Work. But even that platform banned discussion of CodeIsFreeSpeech.com. What we are experiencing is a complete ban on CodeIsFreeSpeech.comnot a shadow ban,' not a reduced newsfeed presence, but a complete ban."
Combs said when users attempt to share posts that include a link to CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, an error message appears, and the post is not visible on the user's timeline. An attempt by the Free Beacon to post a link to the site on a personal Facebook account resulted in an error message, and the post did not appear anywhere on that account's timeline. Combs said he doesn't believe there is any legitimate reason for Facebook to block links to the site.
"The site is not malicious and no malicious files are hosted on it," he said. "We have the file checksums posted right on the site. We run forced full-time HTTPS. CodeIsFreeSpeech.com has been in many major mainstream news articles and televised stories over the past week. The site is definitely not SPAM and it's a verifiably legitimate operation with known participants."
Combs said firearmspolicy.org/unblock-codeisfreespeech, a page set up to protest Facebook' decision to block CodeIsFreeSpeech.com, has also been blocked by the social media giant.
"There's a lot of folks in tech that are troubled by what Facebook has done," he said. "I mean outright banning a mention of CodeIsFreeSpeech.com is a pretty aggressive anti-speech move by them and I think internally they have some pretty tough questions to wrestle with here. If Amazon, Facebook, and Google are going to start censoring content that they think is optically problematic for them, then what's the point of net neutrality if the edge layer, if the rule service providers that hold our data don't let us see it anyway? They want net neutrality, but how about content neutrality at their level?"
Facebook said sharing instructions for how to create a firearm from 3D printed parts violates their rules.
"Sharing instructions on how to manufacture firearms using 3D printers or CNC milling machines is not allowed under our Community Standards," a Facebook spokesperson told the Free Beacon. "In line with our policies, we are removing this content from Facebook."
Facebook also said it was in the process of updating their community standards to reflect the policy banning links to sites which include instructions on how to manufacture firearms. They said they view their new policy as in line with their current regulated goods policy which seeks to limit gun sales and exchanges to licensed dealers. However, Facebook did not answer why they view sharing of firearms blueprints as akin to the sale or transfer of actual firearms and did not respond to a request for an on-record interview.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment.
Despite the action by the tech giants, Combs said the publishing of CodeIsFreeSpeech.com has not resulted in any action by government officials or law enforcement.
"As far as I know, we haven't received any government response whatsoever at any level," he said. "My opinion is, and I think that we're right about this, the settlement in Texas is binding. In my opinion, it was an unlawful injunction that was issued against the State Department, and the federal government in Washington doesn't stop the settlement from being effective. That settlement is in place, that's the law, and we're operating on that basis."
Combs said even officials from California, where Firearms Policy Coalition is based, who have been vocal in their opposition to the publishing of the files haven't yet attempted to take any legal action against the group over the site.
"We haven't heard from the states and local governments either, and it's kind of shocking that they talk about all of this stuff but they don't really do anything about it when they have an opportunity," Combs said. "They take an easy path to go after the Trump administration, maybe this is all part of their resistance narrative but they could've said something about Code Is Free Speech and they havent yet."
Combs said the files posted to the site have long been freely available on a number of websites online, but the group thought it was important to publish them again.
"We wanted to make a bold statement that you can't silence us as a whole, as a collective people that are interested in freedom," he said. "If you're going to go after Cody and Defense Distributed then you're going to come after us too."
Gun-control proponents have warned of the dangers they see in the publishing and sharing of gun designs on the internet in recent weeks.
"Anyone, including terrorists, convicted felons, and domestic abusers, with an internet connection can download these files and use a 3D-printer to make a nearly endless arsenal of untraceable and undetectable weapons," the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said in an email to their supporters last week. "Cody Wilson is dedicated to growing his library of 3D-printable guns, making them available to anyone, anywhere. We cannot overlook the danger to us all by making guns downloadable to dangerous people."
Combs said he disagreed with the idea the files are too dangerous to publish because they may be misused by criminals.
"This is simply nothing new," he said. "The Anarchist Cookbook you can buy on Amazon, UC Berkeley is hosting a copy of it. YouTube has a Vice video where they were making bombs from the Anarchist Cookbook and testing them out. So, people's hand-waving and wailing and gnashing is irrational and doesn't change the realities of the world. I also think this is protected speech, bottom line, period. People will do bad things because that's what they do, and this doesn't change that."
Combs went on to say that he believes all constitutionally protected rights are dangerous in their own right.
"I've said for many years the reason why we have a Bill of Rights and a 14th Amendment is because rights are inherently dangerous. If they weren't dangerous then we wouldn't need to protect them in the very fabric of our social contract. All rights are dangerous. The right to counsel is dangerous, the exclusionary rule is dangerous, the suppression of evidence, a speedy trial, these are all dangerous rights. I believe all rights are dangerous, and that's why we have to protect them."
Going forward, Combs said the group plans to publish more gun-design files and information.
"The future is we're going to be publishing very soon a ton of additional files and information, and as soon as I get that done, it's going to be live," Combs said. "We don't plan to stop and as long as people are willing to share protected speech, we're going to empower that."
In fairness, I can see two sides to the story:
(1) They are acting in accord with normal leftist doctrine similarly to New York Democrats in pressuring banks and insurance companies to not provide services to gun manufacturers and the NRA.
On the other hand, (2) they could be acting defensively to protect their companies from lawsuits in case somebody is injured or killed as a result of one of these 3-D printed weapons being used.
If it was me, I'd think that reason (1) was the rationale for Fakebook's actions, but it wouldn't surprise me if AWS was acting based upon concerns for reason (2), above.
That is a pretty broad policy.
Has AWS, or any ISP, been convicted or held accountable for what their customer legally posts? No, not that I am aware of it. That should now change if these organizations want a say in content. I don’t think they have gray area here—either they own responsibility and then can censor as they are doing or they don’t and then should keep hands off so long as it is legal.
Per chance are any of them not are not evil “white folks”, too.
This is what happens when liberal CEOs realize their hay days are coming to a close under Trump, and they’re going to do anything they can get away with to ensure they shut him down.
These are just the first shots.
WRT social media shutting out gun owners and 2nd advocate conservatives....heres something you can do right now.
ACTION NOWSOCIAL MEDIA NEEDS TO GET THOUSANDS OF LETTERS FROM USERS
INFORM YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PROVIDER, YOU ARE COMMISSIONING AN INDEPENDENT AUDIT OF YOUR ACCOUNT.... .for the following reasons:
According to the Association of CPAs, an audit is a systematic and independent examination of books, accounts, statutory records, documents and vouchers of an organization (non-profit or publicly-held) to ascertain authenticity of financial statements as well as non-financial disclosures and to codify that the account presents a true and fair view of the issues at hand.
An audit also attempts to ensure that the account is properly maintained as required by federal and state law. The auditor perceives and recognises the issues, and conducts a examination, obtains evidence, evaluates the same, and formulates an opinion on the basis of informed judgement which is communicated through an audit report.
Issues such as selling ads based on account-holders, collection monies on behalf of an account-holder, disposition of monies, billing procedures, and the detailed reporting of these issues to principles and stake-holders.
This includes the federal government, state government, the SEC, liability companies, as well as the account holder.
Areas commonly audited include: compliance audits, internal controls, quality management, project management, and collection and disposition of monies. As a result of an audit, principles and stake-holders may effectively evaluate and improve the effectiveness of risk management, control, for the edification of the account-holder and the relevant federal and state governance agencies with a financial stake in the subject matter.
Financial audits are commonly performed to ascertain the validity and reliability of information, as well as to provide an assessment of a systems internal control. As a result of this, each party can have an accounting given on financial statements based on on the audit evidence obtained.
Due to constraints and limitations that might be placed on the auditor, an audit seeks to provide reasonable assurance that the statements are free from material error. In the case of financial audits, a set of financial statements are said to be true and fair when they are free of material misstatements a concept influenced by both quantitative (numerical) and qualitative factors.
Copies of the audit are to be provided to principles and stake-holders including legal oversight agencies, liability companies and oversight agencies, and officials of the state and federal government deemed stakeholders in the resultant financial accounting.
Either the government will take action against the collusion by Facebook, Google, and Amazon, or alternate sites will spring up.
The big three just created another good reason for one or the other to occur.
Anyone who hosts on Amazon Servers and expects fairness from Facebook deserves any abuse they get.
personally, i have no use for these but certainly they are protected free speech ...and an interesting craft hobby for those who are interested and willing to shell out the big bucks for the necessary equipment...
ha! by now, probably every law school professor in the country has downloaded these for classroom teaching exhibits...
still, for any practical use... its a lot cheaper and easier to just buy a professionally-manufactured one at the store
Except, of course, that there is now an unknown number of completely untraceable firearms out there. That's a win for America whether or not either of us has one or more of those guns.
i understand your point.
but, there have been many reports published estimating the firearms in USA at around 400 million, plus or minus 100 million maybe
at least half of which are said to be off the books...
imho, the founding fathers were very intelligent, astute people... and i support most of the constitution the way they gave it to us....including the 1st and 2d.
whether this new technology will really change much? well, i guess it could help end the constant communist drumbeat to do away with the 2d
dictators almost always try to disarm the people ... it is necessary to really seriously oppress them Big Time
Amazon is starting to remind me of “Mom’s” on Futurama....
The SEC looks askance when publicly-held companies misrepresent their value to investors and/or falsifies Annual Reports.
HAT TIP POLITICALJUNKIETOO From Facebook's IPO Prospectus dated May 3, 2012:
Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with their friends and family, to discover what is going on in the world around them, and to share and express what matters to them to the people they care about.
Developers can use the Facebook Platform to build applications (apps) and websites that integrate with Facebook to reach our global network of users and to build products that are more personalized, social, and engaging.
Advertisers can engage with more than 900 million monthly active users (MAUs) on Facebook or subsets of our users based on information they have chosen to share with us such as their age, location, gender, or interests. We offer advertisers a unique combination of reach, relevance, social context, and engagement to enhance the value of their ads.
We believe that we are at the forefront of enabling faster, easier, and richer communication between people and that Facebook has become an integral part of many of our users daily lives. We have experienced rapid growth in the number of users and their engagement.
How We Create Value for Users
Our top priority is to build useful and engaging products that enable you to:
Connect with Your Friends. With more than 900 million MAUs worldwide, our users are increasingly able to find and stay connected with their friends, family, and colleagues on Facebook.
Discover and Learn. We believe that users come to Facebook to discover and learn more about what is going on in the world around them, particularly in the lives of their friends and family and with public figures and organizations that interest them.
Express Yourself. We enable our users to share and publish their opinions, ideas, photos, and activities to audiences ranging from their closest friends to our 900 million users, giving every user a voice within the Facebook community.
Control What You Share. Through Facebooks privacy and sharing settings, our users can control what they share and with whom they share it.
Experience Facebook Across the Web. Through apps and websites built by developers using the Facebook Platform, our users can interact with their Facebook friends while playing games, listening to music, watching movies, reading news, and engaging in other activities.
Stay Connected with Your Friends on Mobile Devices. Through the combination of our mobile sites, smartphone apps, and feature phone products, users can bring Facebook with them on mobile devices wherever they go. Foundations of the Social Web
We believe that the web, including the mobile web, is evolving to become more social and personalized. This evolution is creating more rewarding experiences that are centered on people, their connections, and their interests. We believe that the following elements form the foundation of the social web:
Authentic Identity. We believe that using your real name, connecting to your real friends, and sharing your genuine interests online create more engaging and meaningful experiences. Representing yourself with your authentic identity online encourages you to behave with the same norms that foster trust and respect in your daily life offline.
Authentic identity is core to the Facebook experience, and we believe that it is central to the future of the web. Our terms of service require you to use your real name and we encourage you to be your true self online, enabling us and Platform developers to provide you with more personalized experiences.
Social Graph. The Social Graph represents the connections between people and their friends and interests. Every person or entity is represented by a point within the graph, and the affiliations between people and their friends and interests form billions of connections between the points. Our mapping of the Social Graph enables Facebook and Platform developers to build more engaging user experiences that are based on these connections.
Social Distribution. Over time, people are consuming and creating more kinds of information at a faster pace across a broader range of devices. The growing volume of information makes it challenging to find meaningful and trusted content and to effectively make your voice heard. Facebook organizes and prioritizes content and serves as a powerful social distribution tool delivering to users what we believe they will find most compelling based on their friends and interests.
Express what matters to them?
Richer communication between people?
Integral part of users' daily lives?
Discover and learn more about what is going on in the world around them, particularly in the lives of their friends and family and with public figures and organizations that interest them?
We enable our users to share and publish their opinions, ideas, photos, and activities to audiences ranging from their closest friends to our 900 million users, giving every user a voice within the Facebook community?
The growing volume of information makes it challenging to find meaningful and trusted content and to effectively make your voice heard. Facebook organizes and prioritizes content and serves as a powerful social distribution tool delivering to users what we believe they will find most compelling based on their friends and interests?
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