Facebook Speech Suppression Reaches a New Low
Our experience with the social media giant has been one of frustration and violated civil rights.
“A coordinated and well-funded assault on the First Amendment is well underway. So egregious are these attacks that even the leftist ACLU’s legislative counsel notes, ‘It should concern everyone when companies like Facebook and Twitter wield the unchecked power to remove people from platforms that have become indispensable for the speech of billions — especially when political realities make those decisions easier.’”
Fortunately, things for Twitter have changed since our own Mark Alexander mentioned the above ACLU quote. But the social media monster Facebook (Meta) continues down the path of conservative speech suppression.
The Patriot Post joined Facebook in 2009, seeing the opportunity to reach millions of people with the message of Liberty. Our efforts have resulted in a substantial following of over three-quarters of a million people, with the ability to reach millions on the platform. Compared to our peers, we have some of the most engaged followers on the platform — and thus leftist types at the Big Tech behemoth took notice.
We had a good run for over a decade building our Facebook presence (and, subsequently, building Facebook itself). That all changed in January 2020, when we received a Hate Speech strike for telling the truth. This unleashed an unending parade of strikes in the run-up to the presidential election, leaving our page in perpetual peril of deletion and severely limiting our reach. We have received at least 21 fact-checks and at least six Community Guidelines violations since, mostly for utterly absurd reasons — none for legitimate ones. In most cases, we have been given little to no recourse to resolve these. Indeed, what we have experienced has been unending capriciousness, lack of recourse, and civil rights violations.
Today, we stand on the other side of a newly kindled offensive, having now four “violations” that existentially threaten our page. Over 750K people have intentionally followed us for the purpose of seeing our content, but only a tiny fraction of them see anything we post. To shed light on the sheer absurdity of these most recent strikes, a brief recounting is in order.
Here are the causes for lost traction on Facebook:
Fact-checks. Facebook uses (read: pays) “independent” third-party fact-checkers to supposedly combat the spread of false information on the platform without bias. If original content is directly cited by a fact-checker, the author may contest it with them and might have a chance to reverse it. If it has been reposted, even just as similar content that is not expressly cited by the fact-checker, there is no recourse — just punishment. Due to the third-party nature, Facebook does not help in these instances, based on our experience. One of the most famous labels fact-checkers use is the “missing context” category. This makes it easy to fact-check just about anything that differs from their opinion.
Community Standards/Guidelines violations. We can understand a platform wishing to limit things such as adult content or spam, but in our experience nearly every Community Standards violation levied against us has been a “gotcha” situation based on a technicality. For example, in a recent violation we received a strike for promoting “Dangerous Organizations or Individuals” because in 2021 we posted an editorial column summarizing the rise of political Islam (more on that later). There are countless examples where Facebook flat-out gets what we’re saying wrong (willfully or otherwise) — but when we contest the ruling, 99% of the time it upholds its decision, or there is a convenient “technical error” that does not allow us to submit a claim.
Facebook limiting political content. After using political content to drive massive growth and engagement on its platform (and collect huge sums of money for itself), Facebook decided in late 2021 to limit political content on the platform. This directly impacts our ability to spread the message of Liberty, and it comes, again, after we expended significant effort to build the platform over many years.
Here are the ways we have lost traction on Facebook:
- Page no longer recommended.
- Distribution in news feed reduced.
- Ability to advertise was taken away for two years.
- Page at risk of being unpublished.
- Our message of Liberty intentionally hidden from people who want to see it.
- Traffic from Facebook to our website reduced by over 85%.
We have compiled a detailed list of “violations” for the last 3.5 years. The most recent and most ridiculous ones for 2023 will be mentioned here.
4/28/23 — We received a hate strike for sharing a cartoon about Russian collusion and the U.S. intelligence community regarding the Hunter Biden laptop.
As we detailed here, we think the Facebook bots perceived the cartoon as hate speech against Russians. Since the cartoon is about the U.S. intel community blaming the Hunter Biden laptop story on the Russians, this is obviously a misinterpretation on Facebook’s part. However, even after speaking to a live person at the organization, they upheld the decision to keep the violation on our page. They also refused to tell us exactly how we violated policy, as is typical.
Have the major news outlets that posted countless false Russian collusion stories received retroactive strikes? We doubt it.
5/15/23 — We received a strike for posting in September 2021 a William Federer syndicated column titled “Sept. 11 — Political Islam’s Long War on the West.” Facebook claimed that it “goes against our Community Standards on dangerous individuals and organizations.”
This is particularly disturbing, as Facebook retroactively found content nearly two years old. It’s even more disturbing because the column was simply a piece detailing the rise of political Islam. Read it for yourself and see how absurd this is. Of course, when we tried to contest this, we were ignored and punished.
6/19/23 — A German fact-checker discovered an AI image of Joe Biden posted on a Russian-language Facebook page. The image was created as a unique play on a Babylon Bee satire piece. We used the image in one of our memes, and so we got grouped in. It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that the image is A) fake and B) hilarious. Yet somehow using it means we are now subject to foreign fact-check companies from European countries that don’t understand humor, satire, or free speech.
There are countless other examples like these we could share, but it would take a book. In any case, it is vital that you understand this: For years we have participated on Facebook — a platform that may be the largest forum for public discourse in the world. Indeed, it is a forum indispensable for the speech of billions of people. We have been bullied and silenced for arbitrary and capricious reasons, without recourse, for years. Facebook has benefited monetarily from the audience we have painstakingly grown, while simultaneously costing us untold amounts of monetary value due to its treatment of us. It seems obvious that we have been targeted for our political opinions and given preferential treatment as a result. The systemic redlining of conservative free speech is apparent in our experience, and it is an egregious afront to our civil liberties.
When will Congress or anyone in DC pay attention to what may be the biggest fight for free speech in our lifetimes? We’re not holding our breath.