Despite frequent claims that tech companies are not intentionally censoring or shadow-banning conservatives on social media, the tech behemoth Facebook has flagged two prominent users in the past week for posts with conservative content.
Last week, two videos about abortion posted by the pro-life group Live Action were labeled “false” by one of Facebook’s partner fact-checking organizations, Science Feedback. Both of the videos, which discuss why abortion is not a medically necessary procedure, were labeled as “sharing false news.” Consequently, Live Action’s page was punished with “reduced distribution.”
BREAKING: @Facebook has sent an alert to my followers claiming I share "false news" – because I state that abortion is never medically necessary, a fact backed by thousands of OBGYNS & medical experts.
Now Facebook has said they will cut my page reach.
This censorship MUST END.
— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) August 30, 2019
“Facebook sent notifications to thousands of users alleging that our two videos were ‘false.’ Our two videos explain a position shared by thousands of medical professionals but Facebook’s notification was based on the opinion of two activist abortionists that targeted Live Action and me,” Live Action President Lila Rose told The Federalist. “Facebook should cut ties with the ideologically-driven, inaccurate ‘fact-checkers’ they employed, send a correction notification to everyone they contacted, and issue a public apology.”
The information on abortion that was determined false by Science Feedback, which describes itself as “a worldwide network of scientists sorting fact from fiction in science-based media coverage,” has since been debunked by The American Association of Pro-life OBGYNs.
“They are in error to claim that elective abortion is medically necessary to save the life of the mother,” said Dr. Donna Harrison, executive director of AAPLOG, in a statement. “They did not cite even one example where an abortion, the intentional killing of a living child in utero, would be superior to delivering that child.”
Another incident of possible bias happened on Tuesday when a post by writer and podcaster Bridget Phetasy promoting an interview with conservative commentator Glenn Beck was blocked for violating “community standards.”
— Bridget Phetasy (@BridgetPhetasy) September 3, 2019
Phetasy told The Federalist that she was not given an option to contest the violation, and that Facebook “didn’t even specify what community guidelines were specifically violated.”
Facebook has not replied to a request for comment on either incident.
For years now, Facebook has denied engaging in politically biased censorship. In 2016, when whistleblowers alleged that Facebook’s news curators often meddled with “Trending Topics” to demote conservative news, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he “found no evidence that this report is true.” In 2017, Zuckerberg responded to President Trump’s tweet that Facebook was “anti-Trump,” arguing that both conservatives and liberals will find content and ideas they dislike on the platform.
In 2018, when Zuckerberg testified in front of Congress and was questioned about bias by Sen. Ted Cruz, the Facebook founder said he understands Silicon Valley is a left-leaning place.
“This is actually a concern that I have and that I try to root out in the company is making sure that we don’t have any bias in the work that we do, and I think it is a fair concern that people would at least wonder about,” Zuckerberg said.
He apologized for the “mistake” that led to the censorship of a photo of Jesus on the cross and other “malfunctions” that censored Catholic and conservative content, but continued to defend Facebook’s monitoring system. “I wouldn’t extrapolate from a few examples to assume that the overall system is biased,” he said.