Six Flags Joins the Facebook Boycott

July 1, 2020, 12:43 PM · Six Flags has joined the growing list of companies that have pulled their advertising from Facebook, as well as other social media platforms, in protest over those platforms' promotion of lies and hate speech.

The amusement park chain posted the following statement across its social media accounts today:

Six Flags social media statement

To be fair, Six Flags had pulled all of its advertising spending across all platforms when its parks shut down earlier this year, as the company looked to conserve cash while its parks were closed. But with parks reopening, it would be logical for the company to resume ad buys as it looks to draw back fans.

So far I have not heard of any other theme park companies joining the #StopHateForProfit campaign, which was organized by the Anti-Defamation League and NAACP after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg basically washed his hands at calls for Facebook to take a stronger stand against the proliferation of hate speech and false information on the platform. A Fortune story lists Hershey's as among the campaign participants, but the chocolate company doesn't own the theme park that bears its name, as that's run by a separate foundation.

Full disclosure time. Although Theme Park Insider does not advertise on Facebook or any other social media network, we do post links to our stories there and have been paid by Facebook in the past, as the platform splits some advertising revenue with certain publishers who post videos to Facebook, including us. That said, the money we got from Facebook last month wouldn't buy a cup of coffee from Starbucks, so... yeah.

More to the point of the campaign, though U.S. federal law protects online publishers from liability for comments and content posted by their readers, I got into this to help people, not hurt them. Unfortunately, other publishers seem more concerned about their own financial health than the social health of their community.

Theme Park Insider does not use algorithms like Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms use to determine what you see. Everyone gets the same content here. And I try hard to provide an honest and insightful voice in our front-page posts, then a fair opportunity for people to respond in the comments and to post their own points of view on our discussion forum.

To that end, I've decided that I can do better as a publisher to control what stays up in the comments and on the discussion board. I admit that you've spoiled me in the past. Compared to a lot of other theme park-focused sites out there, the Theme Park Insider community traditionally has been kind and fair. So I've been able to get away with a hands-off approach toward comment moderation.

Sometimes I have to turn off comments on popular stories in order to take pressure off the site's server when those pages get slammed with traffic. But I rarely have had to step in to control reader-submitted content.

Right now, however, a lot of people who have enjoyed a privileged position in American society are lashing out as they see that privilege being challenged. That's playing out in person and online, in places such as on Facebook and even sometimes here on Theme Park Insider. So I am letting you know that I will be more aggressive about deleting comments going forward - not just to enforce our rules against posts that threaten, demean, humiliate, attack, or harass others, but also to remove comments that don't add anything to the discussion.

I love the community here and would love to hear more from all of you - not less. But I think that by clearing away some of the less useful chatter, we can make more space for the personal experiences and insight that we all really want to read instead.

As always, thanks for reading.

Replies (11)

July 1, 2020 at 1:08 PM

Thanks for kind words Robert. I guess we have gotten touchy but then, things are a bit nuts yet some attacks here going a little too far so can understand you wanting to moderate better.

Of course notable in how folks tend to get more passionate and viritol discussing Splash Mountain and Star Wars than on political matters....

July 1, 2020 at 1:33 PM

"Of course notable in how folks tend to get more passionate and viritol discussing Splash Mountain and Star Wars than on political matters...."

And whether Disney Springs is a theme park of course.

Anyway, I would hope that if posts from regular contributors are deleted or redacted that they would be notified about what was said that was objectionable. Some other comment forums indiscriminately delete comments where the poster has no idea what caused the redaction, forcing those people to either leave the forum or use coded language to circumvent the editing measures. We're all learning, and will continue to learn, and while I would hope that I would never say anything hateful, hurtful, objectionable, or discriminatory, I would hope that if I inadvertently did, I would be given an opportunity to learn why my comment was seen that way, and what I can do to adjust my view and understanding.

July 1, 2020 at 1:55 PM

@Russell Meyer: Oh I can agree there, happened to me once with a guy banning me at comments when all I did was a mild disagreement on some TV show, no cursing, no insults or such. At least explain the ban so maybe they can realize how bad they came off and learn.

July 1, 2020 at 2:29 PM

My goodness, Robert, I have so many things to say about this post, but I will eliminate the minor things and just stick with the major things. I also like Russel's suggestion of notifying people as to why their comments went against the rules.

But...first, if you make little enough on Facebook to not be able to buy a cup of coffee, maybe it's best not to use them as a source of revenue, considering all the other problems that come with that site.

I applaud your decision to more closely monitor comments. I know it won't be easy, but in these times it's probably the right thing to do. There are so many hardcore opinions out there on both sides of the aisle (even when it comes to theme parks and mask regulations, etc) that it's good to keep things here focused on theme parks and not on politics. Again, I have strong opinions, but this is not the place to share them. It's like managing the casino at which I work -- there are things that I am comfortable talking about, but when it comes to politics and religion, that's a no-go for me. My (very) strong opinions do not belong there or here.

So thank you for committing to being more proactive in keeping such discussions out of theme park comments. The parks are our escape.

But it's only fair to point out that you've put your own political statements forward in some posts (full disclosure: I generally completely agree with you, but while I have appreciated your candor, the same rule towards comments should apply to articles, but it's your site so you do you).

July 1, 2020 at 3:25 PM

@Kenny Vee: To be fair I don't believe Robert's point here is to keep the discussion solely to theme parks. In the past I myself have been quick to criticize Robert for showing his cards politically in certain articles. I self deleted a comment a while back doing just that, as I realized that what he said was fair and this is his site.

Where it gets bad is when you have people constantly just blasting out their political opinions (and tearing down others) on every article published. Whether it relates to that content or not. Or when you start your own discussion thread only to post some truly awful takes on the racial issues in this country.

July 1, 2020 at 8:17 PM

While I believe social media companies should block content that encourages hate or violence, I think we need to be careful when it comes to censorship. Who will be determining what is "misinformation" on those platforms? Will content simply disappear if those running the platforms disagree with it? Or will there be a transparent process where content is amended with facts from reputable sources, so the readers can understand for themselves why the content is not accurate?

I've heard people from both sides of the political spectrum suggest that the government should regulate social media companies, and enforce the removal of "misinformation". I don't think those people realize that would ultimately put the President in charge of deciding whether or not something is "Fake News". Regardless of your political views, or whatever may happen in the next election, does anyone really think it's a good idea to grant that power to the executive branch of government?

July 1, 2020 at 11:22 PM

FWIW, I post to Facebook (and other social media) as a way to drive traffic to the site. Any revenue they choose to send, I consider incidental. I actually get a laugh out of the "Facebook just sent you $1.24!" (or whatever) messages I get each month, given that Zuck makes that in, what, a microsecond?

And I really hope that just mentioning all this commenting stuff in this post will do the trick, and I won't actually have to delete anything. But, yes, I will make a note to send a private message if I do.

Kind, respectful, helpful, insightful... and if at all possible, funny. Give us at least one of those and you're good in a comment. But the more, the better!

July 1, 2020 at 11:37 PM

Update: I did the math, and based upon Zuck's estimated $15 billion a year income(!), it takes him about three milliseconds to earn a buck-fifty. My apologies for the error.

July 2, 2020 at 7:02 AM

I think the moderation thing, particularly in the forum, has been coming for a while, so I don’t disagree with it.

At the end of the day, the way I see it is the right to free speech is important, but equally important is understanding what it is and what it isn’t.

Free speech is a so called “negative” right you have against the government. By negative I don’t mean it’s bad, I mean that in order to uphold your right to free speech, a government simply needs to do nothing. Compare and contrast with South Africa where food and water are constitutional rights - there the Government must take “positive” action to ensure you get these (as much as it is practical and possible to do so. It is not a right you can hold against other people.

Free speech does not include a right to use someone else’s property to exercise your free speech rights. It doesn’t overrule private property rights.

Free speech does not include an obligation to listen, nor does it include freedom from consequences. If you choose to say something that people don’t like, or effects their opinion of you then tough. If you choose to provide resources to someone who says something people don’t like and people hold you responsible for that, tough.

July 2, 2020 at 10:11 AM

Thanks Robert, I'm consistently impressed with the way you run this site. Well done.

And look: if our current insane predicament has taught us anything, it's that many Americas lack the critical capacity to withstand powerful disinformation campaigns, and need others to police the content they're being fed. How do we know this is true? Look at all the otherwise reasonable people who have been duped into believing the virus is a hoax, and that they don't need to do anything to protect themselves and their families. If that doesn't show the power of online (and, cough, cable "news") disinformation, I don't know what does.

America went all in on the grand internet experiment, and is has backfired royally. We need thoughtful guardians of the public discourse, and in the same way free speech isn't unlimited in the real world, so too should it sometime be checked on the internet, particularly where the result is hate, or even death. Thanks Robert.

July 2, 2020 at 4:09 PM

Well said, Robert. A certain amount of moderation is certainly in order. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I hold a membership card for a roller coaster club which has a website on which vicious attacks on other readers, whether personally or politically motivated, are posted as a matter of course. I don't plan to renew. On the other hand, I've written a number of pieces for a website on which the webmaster made all comments subject to moderation prior to approval for publishing. That was probably over the top but I fully understand that he didn't want profanity, insults or other inappropriate content on the site - just as I understand that Robert wouldn't want political diatribes, digs at other readers and similar content on TPI.

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