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Facebook’s seemingly blatant censorship of conservative voices appears to be reaching a fevered pitch the closer Election Day looms.
The latest example of the media network’s censorship came to the public’s attention very early Sunday morning thanks to the keen eyes of President Donald Trump.
At 12:47 am Sunday morning, he retweeted a report from NJ.com detailing how a Facebook group with nearly 30,000 pro-Trump women was outright deleted Saturday afternoon without any explanation.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 1, 2020
“Priscilla Confrey, co-director of New Jersey Women For Trump, says Facebook did not send her any notifications about the removal or explain why the group was removed,” NJ.com reported.
Confrey is not pleased by what happened.
“People are really, really mad. When you have that many people and they’re shut down, they feel silenced. It was a lot of work over the past year for a private group to just be shut down without notification,” she told the outlet.
“Three days before Election Day? That is absolutely appalling. I just think these companies, these social media groups, have too much power. They offer to you to open up a group on their social media platform, and you could have 30,000 members, and they shut it down without telling you anything.”
As for the possible reason for the group’s removal, Confrey did admit that the group had been flagged a couple of times these past few weeks over allegedly “problematic” posts, particularly posts related to the coronavirus pandemic.
In recent months Facebook has practiced enforcement against posts and content, including legitimate news stories, that contain alleged “misinformation.”
This move has ostensibly been driven by pressure from America’s mainstream media, which quite tellingly has faced zero tangible consequences for the alleged misinformation and fake news it is accused of routinely disseminated across social media.
The problem — besides the media’s partisanship — is that Facebook’s fact-checks are sometimes accused of being deceptive
Last week, for instance, Facebook fact-checked a satirical image on a Facebook page that’s clearly identified as “satire.”
As of Sunday morning, the fact-check on the post still remained active, meaning the satirical page was still being penalized for it.
“Once a fact-checker rates a piece of content as False, Altered or Partly False, it will appear lower in News Feed, be filtered out of Explore on Instagram, and be featured less prominently in Feed and Stories,” Facebook’s policy reads.
“This significantly reduces the number of people who see it. We also reject ads with content that has been rated by fact-checkers.”
The policy also warns that pages that are repeatedly fact-checked may be removed altogether, regardless of the fact-check’s legitimacy.
So what inspired Facebook to penalize the page? A fact-check that was conducted by USA Today, a left-wing outlet that has never once fact-checked satire from The Onion, a satirical website that leans to the left politically.
Conversely, Facebook’s has no qualms about not only fact-checking conservative commentary but conservative opinions as well.
“Way back on Feb. 23, The Post ran an opinion piece by Steven Mosher saying that we couldn’t trust China’s story about the origins of COVID-19. He argued that the virus might — might — have jumped to the human population thanks to errors at a Chinese laboratory in Wuhan, rather than via that city’s now-notorious ‘wet market,'” the New York Post reported in April.
“The piece was widely read online — until Facebook stepped in. The social media giant’s ‘fact checkers’ decided this was not a valid opinion.”
But worst still have been the network’s fact-checks on legitimate reporting:
You won’t believe what @Facebook is doing to me and why they’re doing it.
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) September 28, 2020
The arguably most egregious example of recent censorship happened last month when Facebook began reducing the reach of a legitimate report from the New York Post containing allegations about Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden’s youngest son, Hunter.
Andy Stone, the policy communications manager at Facebook, said in a tweet at the time that the network would be “reducing its distribution on our platform” until it could fact-check the Post’s reporting and allegations for itself.
He said in a follow-up tweet “this is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation.”
While I will intentionally not link to the New York Post, I want be clear that this story is eligible to be fact checked by Facebook’s third-party fact checking partners. In the meantime, we are reducing its distribution on our platform.
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
This is part of our standard process to reduce the spread of misinformation. We temporarily reduce distribution pending fact-checker review. https://t.co/vf3CBvLmjj
— Andy Stone (@andymstone) October 14, 2020
Weeks later, it’s not clear whether the Post’s reporting is still being penalized, though it’s as clear as day that other conservatives most definitely are being penalized.
As for Confrey, she’s reportedly created a new group.