People have often speculated about whether or not Facebook has a political bias, and now we may have indisputable proof that they do.
Wednesday evening I was enjoying watching the President Bill Clinton’s DNC speech in my hotel room. I was on vacation for the week, and I had just had a great meal with my brother and his family, whom I hadn’t seen in 4 years, and I sat down on my laptop to check my Facebook, which I hadn’t been using the 3 days prior. I was chatting with the editors of this site, when an alert popped up. “Please log in to continue.”
I’ve seen this alert before. It’s usually accompanied by an e-mail which says that one of Facebook’s terms of service has been violated. These warning are generally very vague, and Facebook doesn’t offer any way to challenge the warning. I went to the login screen, and this was the notification I received.
Of course, I was upset. I started my profile over 2 years ago, and in that time I’ve connected with over 5,000 people with similar political views. When something like this happens, and Facebook thinks you’ve violated their terms of service, it’s usually accompanied with an e-mail containing a screenshot of the content, so I immediately checked my e-mail. There was nothing.
Now I’m starting to get stressed out. Was I hacked? Did I violate some unknown rule of Facebook that got me removed? Or was I targeted? I generally try to stay away from the paranoid theories, but then I noticed something. Not only had Facebook deleted my personal profile, they’d also deleted several of my fan pages.
The first one they’d deleted was my page “Boycott Rush Limbaugh’s Sponsors” which had around 20,000 fans. You can still find it on Google, I’m including a screenshot of the cached version of the page below.
If you attempt to reach the URL of the page, http://facebook.com/BoycottLimbaugh it will take you back to the homepage. When this happens it means that Facebook has removed the page. If the page didn’t exist, it would give you a “Page not found” error. For example, if you type in http://facebook.com/ and then add a random assortment of letters after the URL it’s clear that facebook page never existed. http://facebook.com/ followed by any random combination of letters and numbers is a perfect example. It doesn’t redirect you to the homepage, it makes it clear that page never existed.
Now I’m starting to think this is targeted. I’m an admin of over 50 fan pages on Facebook, so I started wracking my brain trying to think of any other pages they might have done that to. Then I remembered my anti-Romney page “Americans Against Mitt Romney” which also had several thousand fans. You can see the screenshot of the cached version on Google below.
You can clearly see that the page existed however, if you type any of the links into your browser they are no longer active.
At this point I’m not only frustrated and upset, it’s clear that I was directly targeted by Facebook, so I started doing some research. Apparently this is not the first time Addicting Info has been targeted by Facebook. In August of 2011 we published an article about the fact that Facebook was censoring political speech, specifically an article titled “Republican For Dummies: A Translation Guide To Right-Wing Talking Points.” I’m the owner of Addicting Info, so if my site has been targeted it means that I have already been targeted. I did some more digging and found out that I’m not the only liberal to have been targeted to Facebook.
According to Democratic Underground, in March of 2012:
At first I thought it was one of those bugs a sight will have. Every once in a while I would post a story on a liberal subject or from Mother Jones, etc. And after a minute or two the link would disappear, leaving only a cryptic status message.
I thought I was being paranoid when I began to notice that the non-issue links or posts of cute kittens, memes, YouTube were never the ones that disappeared.
Yesterday I posted this link: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/03/13/1074013/-Hilarious-VA-Right-Wingnut-Sen-Ryan-McDougle-Gets-a-Taste-of-His-Own-Transvaginal-Medicine- from Daily Kos. It stayed and a couple of people commented on it.
This morning, one of my fb friends said the link was not working. So, I tried it. Sure enough, it started the process, then simply stopped.
I looked the story up on a search engine and clicked the link, no problem. I then pasted that link (the same link btw) into Facebook. The story and thumbnail showed up. I clicked the link. Not Working.
While I wish I could say I believed these to be isolated incidents, the fact that our site was first targeted, and now I’m being targeted, seems to suggest otherwise.
I understand that profiles get deleted. I understand that Facebook has an automated system which sometimes makes mistakes. That doesn’t explain the fact that only selective fan pages were deleted, and it certainly doesn’t explain why Facebook would disable my account without giving a reason why. When my account was disabled I received several e-mails letting me know that Facebook apps which I use had been disabled, but no reason was given in any of those e-mails.
I recently reported a page to Facebook titled “Nigr.” You can view the page here. Instead of disabling the page from posting, or taking it down altogether, they added “[Controversial Humor]” to the title. I’m including a screenshot because I’m sure Facebook will take it down once people are made aware of their hypocrisy in regards to disabling content.
I wrote this article last Wednesday and Thursday while I was on vacation. I got a message from Facebook on Friday saying they were reviewing my appeal, so I held off on publishing it. Today I received a message from Facebook denying my appeal, so I’m publishing it in the hopes that they’re realize they made an egregious error by disabling my account.
I built my business through Facebook. I met and connected with my employees through Facebook. I’ve spent thousands of dollars of my businesses’ money on advertising through facebook, and I’ve spent thousands and thousands of hours on Facebook. It’s outrageous that I would get deleted for political activism while blatantly racist pages are allowed to stay up.
Don’t forget, the page praying for Obama’s death has been up for almost 4 years now, and facebook still refuses to take it down.
If you’d like to contact facebook in regards to this issue, on my behalf, the only e-mail I was able to use to contact them was firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. Let them know they need to restore Matthew Desmond’s profile.