Kit is the Asst. Editorial Director of Liberty Nation. She writes on intelligence, digital security and tech.
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(Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of three articles which examine how various on-line social media outlets like Facebook are working to silence your conservative voice across the internet.)
Kender MacGowan is a Southern California man who loves social media. His Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with photos of his horses, his twisted humor, and his conservative politics – when he’s allowed to post, that is. MacGowan has been banned by Facebook four times, most recently for thirty days, because he frequently posts things that Facebook says are against their community standards.
Irreverent, sarcastic, and even rude, MacGowan’s posts frequently ridicule the left’s buzzwords with poems and witty turns of phrase; one of his most popular gags involves replacing a word or phrase in a movie title with a phrase in the news. The game results in long threads where MacGowan and his many followers come up with things like “The Fake News Strikes Back.” Recently his primary account was banned for thirty days after he said that he was putting together a 1980’s rock fusion band named “Rape Culture Club.”
“I’m in Facebook jail,” he wrote recently from his alternate account, “but there’s a workaround, so I’m more like a cartel leader in a Mexican jail.” MacGowan sees himself as a raconteur; Facebook sees him as a problem — a troll to silence.
MacGowan’s experience is hardly isolated. The revelation that Facebook is targeting conservatives and libertarians is not news for those who have experienced it firsthand. A number of prominent – and not so well-known – conservatives, libertarians, and others have repeatedly been blocked from posting on Facebook as well, and for far less than Mr. MacGowan.
Another case in point is Nash Montana. She is a key contributor regarding news coming out of Germany and other parts of Europe; her German translation work at Gates of Vienna and Vlad Tepes’ blog has made it possible for the rest of the world to see the horrifying effects of the Islamic refugee onslaught in Europe. She has been banned from Facebook so often that she has to maintain several accounts. She has posted everything from videos of Islamic savagery to sharing a picture someone took of an anti-Trump protester, blindfolded and seated at a table, with a sign that says “Rape me! Make your President proud!”
In an exclusive interview with Liberty Nation, Montana explained how Facebook has targeted her personally.
“In 2016 [Facebook banned me] on this profile five times,” Montana tells LN, “for thirty days each.” That means on her primary account she spent almost half the year unable to post or comment. When asked why Facebook punished her, her answer was telling – partly because it wasn’t for the anti-Trump protest picture. “Last year without exception it was about homosexual and transgender posts I made. None of them mean, just truthful,” Montana says.
After a gunman had opened fire at a gay club in Orlando, for instance, Montana posted that the gay community should “rethink their stance on guns.” That comment put her in Facebook jail, even though a group exists within the gay community that made the same statement after the Orlando shooting. In a statement to the media, gay gun rights group Pink Pistols speaker Gwendolyn Patton pointed out that gays should be getting a concealed carry permit in their state, and added, “Armed queers don’t get bashed.”
The problem is not just that Facebook censors content, although it does; it’s a multifaceted issue, brought about partly by the fact that many misunderstand what the First Amendment protects, and what Facebook’s obligations are to the public. Add in Facebook’s leftist leadership, and their known propensity for stifling conservative and libertarian thought, and the result is a perfect storm, in which misunderstandings about freedom of speech are juxtaposed with Facebook’s leftist agenda.
The First Amendment’s provisions – freedom of religion, speech, assembly, petition, and the press – all have one thing in common; they are referring to a government-citizen relationship. The amendment does not, as many believe, create a free-for-all where anyone can say anything without consequence. In our personal lives, the things we say and do have repercussions; we all censor ourselves on a daily basis at our jobs and in our relationships; we do this not because we have to, but because we choose to, because it’s the responsible thing to do. The difference between individuals and Facebook, however, is that in our personal lives, we make that choice based on our own morals, our own beliefs, or the situation at hand. On Facebook, a faceless, nameless algorithm — or a human who disagrees with your viewpoints — makes the decision for you, based upon their morals, politics, and personal mood.
Facebook is a corporation; contrary to popular belief and the hundreds of memes on the subject, a user’s page belongs to Facebook. It is not a consequence-free zone; as a corporation, Facebook can limit or ban any speech it wishes to – and while some users scream that Facebook violates their First Amendment rights, this is simply not true. Facebook is free to devise any guidelines it wishes and hold its users to those standards.
Where Facebook gets into hot water is the explanation and application of those rules – or lack of, depending on a user’s side of the aisle. Author Michael Z. Williamson tells Liberty Nation he has been banned from Facebook over thirty-five times, with some overlapping punishments; he received a twenty-four-hour ban while his account was already on a thirty-day ban. One of Williamson’s many crimes was “making a joke about the arthropod commonly known as a ‘chigger.’”
Apparently, he says, “that word is some sort of racist term for someone half Chinese, half black.” Fellow Liberty Nation author Jeff Charles says that is simply “intellectual laziness” on the part of Facebook. “These labels function as a sort of ‘shortcut’ to reaffirming their points of view,” Charles says. According to Urban Dictionary, the word is used to describe a Chinese person who “thinks they’re black,” which itself violates the leftist narrative on cultural appropriation. Not even the left can stand in the minefield they created.
Williamson’s list of crimes against Facebook also included using the word “faggot” in its proper historical context – a bundle of sticks. Next, Facebook banned him for making a joke about chinks in someone’s armor – which was interpreted to be a racist remark against Asians. Williamson was banned over and over until finally, he decided to have some fun with it.
“After that,” he says, he and several of his friends “started trolling to see how many we could find. One friend was banned for linking to the Wikipedia page for the nation of Niger.”
While the author later found that his experience stemmed from stalker-like behavior by one person who continuously reported Williamson’s posts, Facebook handled it poorly. According to Williamson, the logical course of action would have been to block that user from seeing Williamson’s posts anymore. Instead, he says, “they’ve turned everyone into moles reporting on everyone else in some ridiculous attempt to maintain a moral standard in a world that doesn’t have a uniform standard.”
Facebook standards also seem to fail the logic test; Williamson points out that he “posted an anti-Nazi joke that included a uniform, and was banned, presumably for the Swastika in the image, even though their rules clearly say that satire and parody are protected.” Meanwhile, black supremacy pages filled with racist invective against whites and a distinct lack of irony remain up, with thousands of members.
Facebook does ban liberals as well from time to time; Williamson says it can be attributed to the users’ “failure to check for satire.” As a rule, however, adherents of the left’s Religion of Narrative have nothing to worry about.
Perhaps nothing illustrates the obvious bias Facebook employs better than the report that caught German Chancellor Angela Merkel on a hot mic while speaking to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in September 2016. Merkel asked Zuckerberg about “offensive posts on the refugee crisis.” Merkel wanted Facebook to disallow posts critical of refugees.
“Are you working on this?” Merkel asked. Zuckerberg responded, “Yeah.”
More recently, Facebook bought into the “fake news” narrative, and announced in December 2016 that it would be using “fact checking” sites to determine if something was “fake news.” Among the sites that Facebook will use as arbiters of truth are Snopes, Factcheck.org, and PolitiFact – well-known for being funded by the left. Facebook says it will start deciding if something is worth seeing, and if it deems a post fake, it will bury it in feeds or otherwise ensure that users do not easily see it. Twitchy, Breitbart and other conservative or libertarian sites are already pegged with the “fake news” moniker.
Nash Montana is aware of the double standard but says she doesn’t care what Facebook does to her. “It only motivates me more to be a thorn in their side. I’m not upset when they block me; I move on to the next profile.” She says she has a few other social media profiles but isn’t interested in using them as often as Facebook.
Michael Z. Williamson won’t be getting rid of his Facebook account anytime soon. He suggests that conservatives and libertarians engage in “both developing other outlets so one’s message can get out regardless, and to continue to push on the existing social media to maintain at least some balance. Departing the field just cedes it to the enemy.”
Kender MacGowan agrees. “We have to counter the extremists,” he says, “especially those on the left who literally attack not only free speech but free thought.”
(Stay tuned for Part two in this series tomorrow here on LibertyNation.com)
Editor’s Note: This article was edited on 14 February 2017 at 11:19 EST to add that the phenomenon does happen to liberals as well.