What’s happening: On Sun. Aug. 14, liberal page administrators and bloggers in my network started spreading the word that they had been blocked from posting ANY content on ANY other wall for 15 days. No prior warning was given.
The offenders are charged with posting links to news/opinion articles – such as this liberal’s guide to Republican talking points – a small number of times to LIKE-MINDED pages with which they regularly interact. (Some reported making posts to as few as 4 other pages before being suspended – for 15 days – with no warning!) I’ve also been alerted that Facebook has revoked some administrator’s posting privileges for sharing links to their liberal Facebook page on the walls of other liberal pages.
Facebook indicates these activists have been posting “spam and irrelevant” content. So, Facebook seems to be deciding for community pages what is spam or irrelevant before the actual page administrators are ever able to see – or re-share – the content.
A check of Facebook’s community standards confirms that NONE of the blocked content or pages I’ve heard about have violated ANY of these rules (engaging in hate, violence, phishing, theft, spam for commercial purposes, etc.)
Is it Facebook’s Fault?
This isn’t the first time a Facebook-related free speech restraint has come up on my radar, and that’s why I’m not biding my time before I talk about this. People should know what’s going on so Facebook can isolate and rectify the errors that are causing unfair censorship.
The previous red flag: A few weeks ago, I came across this webpage that catalogues Obama’s accomplishments (with citations). When I went to share it on my wall I was blocked from doing so.
The explanation: The link had been reported as “abusive or spammy” content. No one else can post the above blog link to their Facebook wall either – even now as I write. Even though I and others contacted Facebook to appeal that block as a violation of political free speech, Facebook never responded or unblocked the link. Therefore, this list of Obama’s accomplishments seems to be permanently banned from Facebook – and for no good reason. Remember that just because you may not share a favorable view of Obama, that doesn’t mean the content should be censored. People have a right to information!
Or is it Right-Wing Trolls?
I am willing to give Facebook the benefit of the doubt. It’s entirely possible that Facebook’s overly sensitive spam trigger is a bug that Facebook will rectify pronto.
Of course, another explanation has occurred to me. Right-wing trolls might be gaming the spam reporting feature in order to trigger Facebook into blocking populist information from spreading.
I am talking about the same type of right-wing vandals that:
- place fake robocalls to disrupt voting,
- run spoiler candidates in Democratic primaries,
- turn Wikipedia pages into propaganda, and
- enact unconstitutional voter suppression laws that literally prohibit people from learning where their correct voting location is.
I guess they don’t think they can win without playing dirty.
And back to Facebook …
Then I considered a more disturbing explanation after I read a Wall Street Journal article. What if the right amount of pressure has been put on employees of one of the world’s most powerful social networks to keep liberal free speech quiet?
Mark Zuckerberg himself has no bones about saying that free speech is a negotiable. From the WSJ:
“Maybe we will block content in some countries, but not others,” said Adam Conner, a Facebook spokesperson. “We are occasionally held in uncomfortable positions because now we’re allowing too much, maybe, free speech in countries that haven’t experienced it before.”
I must ask: Is America now one of the countries where you’ve decided to block free speech content?
Facebook: Please don’t start to enforce the notion that there is “too much free speech” in America. We are using your site as a message board, we’re in this to help inform others, there are thousands of liberal pages, and we all want to share content with each other.
- Undo the draconian 15-day posting suspensions for sharing news articles with the welcoming walls of like-minded community pages.
- Adopt a more lenient policy for how often users can post articles to other community pages before being labeled as a spammer.
- Consider investigating users who frequently report content as spam/abuse. Realistically, people should only rarely have the need to report spam/abuse on someone else’s community page.
- Set spam triggers for posting to community pages based on whether a significant number of page administrators label content as spam, not based on reports from random visitors to the page who might be gaming the system.
- Audit the content that Facebook employees ban. If, as you say, someone is reviewing the content I’ve linked to here to decide whether it meets community standards and then ruling to ban it, there’s a good case that they are doing so for political motives.
Our country is at risk of losing the rights and dignities of its middle class.
Don’t help the wealthy and powerful crush us on Facebook. Now that Citizens United has given corporations free speech (in the form of anonymous political donations), don’t limit the People’s First Amendment Rights.
Where is OUR Arab Spring?
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