Facebook – self appointed arbiter of “free speech” – tells Tea Party no more organizing

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In what is an astonishing development, Mark Zuckerberg’s social media sensation, Facebook, has been slowly and quietly clamping down on the use of the site for political purposes. Kellen Giuda, an architect who started the NY Tea Party, has a column today in The Daily Caller to expose the Facebook hypocrisy, and to announce an alternative social medium to replace the FB void after a series of policy and site changes that are designed to limit the scope of use of Facebook related to political purposes.

What makes an American entrepreneur’s blood run cold is the quote from Facebook’s Adam Conner to the Wall Street Journal last month:

Meanwhile, Facebook is talking with potential Chinese partners about entering the huge China market, where the government has been cracking down on dissidents. That crackdown has come in response to the uprisings shaking authoritarian Middle Eastern regimes, movements that have used U.S.-based social-media sites like Facebook and Twitter as organizing tools.

“Maybe we will block content in some countries, but not others,” Adam Conner, a Facebook lobbyist, told the Journal. “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,” he said.

“Right now we’re studying and learning about China but have made no decisions about if, or how, we will approach it,” said Debbie Frost, Facebook’s director of international communications.

It’s chilling enough that a social medium that has played such a high profile role in political interaction decides that one country is “experienced” enough to be allowed free speech, and another isn’t. But considering Facebook’s attitude towards the Tea Party and other groups that are not being offered the privileged “upgrade” that allows them to keep their contacts intact, this begs the question of Mr. Conner… just what part of America, and our founding based on free speech, requires nanny censorship by a self appointed arbiter? Is this country not “experienced” enough in the eyes of the Facebook authorities.

Facebook isn’t foolish enough to outright lay on political censorship. As Guida points out, it’s been a series of steps that unmistakenly is aimed at political use of the medium. And he further suggests that the overt ties to liberal political beliefs may play a large part in thwarting Tea Party organization.

The company has changed the way Facebook’s group, newsfeed and event features work, and it has restricted the ability of users to communicate with people (via messages and wall posts) who are outside of their real-life social networks.

What’s more, it’s become clear that Facebook itself is dominated by liberals:

•98% of political donations from Facebook employees went to Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

•Chris Hughes, one of Facebook’s co-founders, headed up Barack Obama’s successful website during the 2008 campaign. In 2009, he was featured on the cover of Fast Company magazine as “The kid who made Obama president: how Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes unleashed Barack’s base — and changed politics and marketing forever.”

•Facebook’s former attorney for privacy issues, Chris Kelly, ran for attorney general of California in 2010 on a far-left platform.

Many Americans and Tea Party organizers are waking up to this liberal culture at Facebook, which was on display at the recent Facebook townhall where Barack Obama and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg fawned over each other.

And speaking of this new a’political philosphy, if Facebook is so all fired dedicated to free speech and staying away from politics, why the heck are they interviewing the POTUS on political issues, and livestreaming it on Facebook anyway?

And what happens to all those Congressional owned Facebook accounts? Aren’t they entirely political in nature? Or is it only “organizing” they seem to oppose?

UPDATE: To hedge off any additional misreadings and misconceptions that have been repeatedly addressed in the vast comments below, yes… I know that FB doesn’t “guarantee” anyone “free speech” as a private company. Nor is political ideology a protected class under federal or state civil rights. I suggest none of this. This post is about Facebook’s hypocrisy – their supposed “pro freedom” beliefs that runs counter to their idea that some are capable of handling “free speech” and others are not in the US. If Facebook wishes to advertise itself as a liberal political organizing platform, that’s fine. But the overt disconnect of saying they are “pro freedom” (but may be giving some “too much free speech”), while picking and choosing who may or may not keep their organizing contacts with the privileged upgrades, is not representative of who they claim to be. Now… returning you to the program, already in progress….END UPDATE

What becomes more ironic about FB’s attempted control and tiptoe away from politics is the very political nature of both the company, and of Conner himself… who is one of Facebook’s lobbyists on staff. It was only last week that Facebook hired on two more lobbyists, both Republicans, to complement their two Democrat lobbyists, for more influence in Washington. Perhaps they see the writing on the wall for 2012, and an era that is likely to usher in even more conservatives to what has been an unhealthy Democrat balance for too many years.

Facebook now has four registered lobbyists. The new Republican hires join Democrats Tim Sparapani and Adam Conner. Facebook has 12 staffers in its Washington office, including administrative support.

“At Facebook, we’re committed to explaining how our service works; the important actions we take to protect the more than 500 million people who use our service; and the value of innovation to our economy,” spokesman Andrew Noyes said in a statement. “This work occurs daily in Washington, at the state level, and with policymakers around the world.”

The company spent $230,000 lobbying in the first quarter, according to a recent filing with the House clerk’s office.

Apparently the company is allowed to be political for their benefit, but they do not wish to offer that same freedom of content use to their subscribers…

 Conner himself has anything but an a’political career.

Prior to Facebook, Adam was the Director of Online Communications for Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, Chairwoman of the Rules Committee in the U.S. House of Representatives. He previously served as the Deputy Director of Online Communications for Forward Together, the presidential exploratory committee for former Virginia Governor Mark Warner. Adam holds a bachelor’s degree in political communication from the George Washington University.

Additionally, it was Egypt’s Wael Ghonim, Google’s ME marketing guru and anonymous Facebook administrator, who is credited with driving the Egyptian “Arab Spring”.

Ghonim thought Facebook could be the ideal revolutionary tool in Egypt’s suffocating police state. “Once you are a fan, whatever we publish gets on your wall,” he wrote. “So the government has NO way to block it later. Unless they block Facebook completely.”

I wonder if Ghonim ever envisioned that it would not be a government that blocks content, but the Facebook execs themselves.

The hypocrisy of such back door censorship flies in the face of the Facebook executives actions themselves during that event, where it was reported they “..took unusual steps to protect the identity of protest leaders during the Egypt uprising.” Apparently, it is their policy to monitor, meddle and control with the content sniffs of politics. Or is this their idea of a self-imposed “fairness doctrine”?

Granted, Giuda’s own Daily Caller column is a blatant advertisement for his attempt at a political “Facebook” alternative, Freedom Torch. But considering how firmly entrenched FB is in today culture, and it’s now famous association with what many consider a political success for organizing both the US Tea Party movement and rebellions overseas, it’s going to have a serious uphill climb in replacing the vast audience Facebook has already captured.

Paraphrasing Dr. Johnny Fever’s infamous line in the old WKRP sitcom, “when you move the mission, you need to remember to tell the drunks”. There’s the potential that a lot of communication with political activists could be lost. It’s difficult to drive traffic for a political organizing cause to another social medium when the originating medium is making it difficult to convey that message to begin with by stripping them with the majority of their contact database.

Or is that Facebook’s intention?

Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.

225 Responses to “Facebook – self appointed arbiter of “free speech” – tells Tea Party no more organizing”

  1. 1


    Facebook, Google…..sigh. We need some good Conservative techie geeks to create an internet leviathan that would be for free speech, fair market principles, limited government, etc…

    Maybe that would be too “radical.”

  2. 2


    It’s so sad that “conservatives” are always so far behind the technological/internet curve. Conservatives whine day-in and day-out and how liberal Wikipedia is or how Facebook is going to crackdown on the Tea Party, etc.

    Blah, blah, blah. Instead of bitching and whining 24/7 the Right should man-up and just start their own “social media” sites or encyclopedias. Now I realize a website such as FA is a step in the right direction and does **something** about this problem, but the BIG MONEY boys need to step up to the plate- like Soros has done- and start to counter the propaganda mill of the left.

    Ditto with conservatives complaining about Journalism or education. Get off your lazy butt and infiltrate these professions. It’s not that hard.

    Good post, Mata.

  3. 3

    John Evan Miller

    I can agree with the fact that Facebook needs to allow free speech for all and not just censor information that they do not agree with–in the end that is not free speech at all.

  4. 4


    @John Evan Miller:

    I can agree with the fact that Facebook needs to allow free speech for all and not just censor information that they do not agree with-in the end that is not free speech at all.

    What? And why should they do that? It’s legal what they are doing and it helps the libs.

    Don’t complain, do something to change it. Infiltrate.

  5. 5


    There is no doubt, none what-so-ever, that those associated with FaceBook are far left liberals, progressives really. There is also no doubt that liberals do not intend to allow the re-election of Obama to chance. As the Stimulus plan continues to fail to stimulate, as housing is now entering a second dip of recession, as the unemployment rate continues at 9% (with the media ignoring that the true unemployment rate is at Great Depression numbers), the job creation in the public sector remains anemic and the GDP growth is at a painful 1.8%, you can only convince people for so long that things are getting better when everything they see arounds them says the opposite.

    Those who surround Obama understand this, and they understand that his bounce from the killing of UBL will not last another 18 months. So the tactic must be to silence those who are speaking loudly about Obama’s failure to make good on campaign promises by any and all methods. FaceBook also holds responsibility for the Egyptian uprisings, touted by this administration as a good thing, now saying little about it as we watch the Muslim Brotherhood, who both the administration and the American press said were not involved, poise itself to take over.

    You see, liberals only believe in free speech when it benefits them, not when it benefits their opposition. Then they declare the opposition quilty of “hate” speech. And they will never accept that the best places to encourage free speech is the nation that set the standard for that right as well as the nations who have never had it. My guess is that the gurus at FaceBook understand that the Arab Spring is about to turn into the Arab Slaughter. Look no further than the burnings of Coptic churches and the killing of Coptic Christians in Egypt. Not exactly a success story.

    FaceBook execs may think they can help silence some of the dissention about Obama. They can’t. There is still Twitter, cell phone texting and that age old proven standby, the telephone.

  6. 6



    The screws are being tightened; Facebook realizes the damage the Tea Party can do to Obama’s reelection bid and like a spoiled kid he wants to take his ball and go home. It’s time for Conservatives to close out their Face Book accounts. It is the perfect time for competition and the fall of Face Book. Let the little Obama pimp feel what it is like to lose over half his business when he wants to play authoritarian tyrant. A new offering can now offer a better more secure alternative to cut down on the cyber crimes that are connected with Face Book.

  7. 7



    One would think that if Facebook were demanding their content not be political, that any politician’s FB page should also be restricted, Skook. And in the past few days, da Weinerschitzel is probably chagrined his FB page wasn’t guarded more carefully. I guess lewd shots are more palatable to the FB execs than political organizing, eh?

    Their entire attitude makes no sense. They are political. They live stream political events. They openly say they may block content to some countries based on how “experienced” with free speech they are. Yet they quelch any political activism, while allowing political figures to have FB accounts that are about nothing *but* political subjects?

    They are one confused and meddling organization. Gave up my FB two years ago… never missed it for a day.

  8. 8

    Nan G

    I’ve seen this happen with Reddit, Digg and so many other little networking sites.
    Even the ”tech-y” ones eventually get taken over by the Left.
    I’ll stick to my old fashioned telephone tree and email.
    Remember the old Prell commercial?
    She told two friends, and she told two friends and so on and so on and so on?
    We had friends who escaped the former Soviet Union.
    Of course it was MUCH worse there than here, even now.
    But, hey, why not be ready?
    Every keystroke you make is retrievable.
    In the old USSR people met and shared information quietly, privately.
    I don’t need to get validated by knowing what TEA parties are doing all over the country.
    Just make sure I know what my local one is doing this month, next month and so on.

  9. 9

    another vet

    @Skookum: and Ivan #2. Building upon your suggestions cons need to take it even farther than Facebook. The MSM also needs to be sent a message. Cons need to not only quit watching the three major networks news programs, but they also need to quit watching any and all of their shows. Hit them in the pocketbook. A perpetual loss of several million viewers will result in a big loss of sponsors and thus revenue. Ditto for Hollywood and the movie theaters. They want to have all of these liberal themed movies, fine. Quit patronizing them and hit them in the pocketbook where it counts as well. Don’t stop there either. If a company supports the left’s agenda, cease patronizing them.

  10. 11



    John Cooper, all the more reason for conservatives to stay in. You know, within the enemies camp? But they must also learn to either keep their mouths shut, or leave false trails of info breadcrumbs.

    The only reason FB is a bottomless pit of information is all these crazy people voluntarily offer up their personals. Hey, if you’re so dumb as to say things that can, and will, be used against you, I’m willing to be privvy to that stupidity for the proper cause.

  11. 12


    I guess it’s a first in restrickting the right to organise for 2012, and yes all better have an alternative and become independant and stay free of that FACECROOKED BOOK THAT ALLOWED YOUNG PEOPLE TO USE THEIR PLACE FOR SENDING DEATH THREAT TO SOME PEOPLE,
    and those who choose to stay with FACEBOOK will be single out as follower of the left.

  12. 14

    Lexington Green

    I deactivated my FB account on January 1, 2011.

    It is simply a mine of free data that the users provide, for sale to businesses that then target them for advertising.

    It is also an ideologically slanted and overly powerful entity.

    Don’t suppport, don’t help it, don’t use.

    Say no to FB.

    Just walk away.

  13. 15


    FACEBOOK is screwing itself.
    In many circles FB is (now) just considered, “the new email” (as email is a pain- much easier to post to your FB NewsFeed, group, add pics, links, etc. on FB and forget traditional email).

    FB is like a more active LinkedIN.

    NOW– a HUGE group of Conservatives gather on TWITTER.
    With the use of Hashtags (#) it is easy to find #conservatives or whomever you want.
    Most of congress is available to make comments to– it all adds up you can be sure.

    YOU GET INFORMATION NEVER REPORTED on traditional media!

    If you use your airport three letter code in your name- area people, businesses, can quickly FOLLOW you (if that is what you want. ) You can fly under the radar- or jump right in.
    For crying out loud I got @KarlRove following ME! LOL

    I use FB for business, family and keep my mouth shut (usually).
    TWITTER is where it is at, can let your hair down, block people (if wanted), follow, listen, speak up, and LEARN (join up w/techies, photo groups, fun groups, political, writers, WHATEVER).
    Every TEA PARTY group is FREE to post/talk/link…..

    We in TWITTERLAND knew about #OBL being dead one full hour before it hit the internet feeds, TV, and the long grueling 40 min wait on FOX and CNN (to break the story after announcing the POTUS was coming on TV at 11pm at night). Reporters at CBS (& others) confirmed. The Twitter feed was so exciting that night!

    Also so helpful on Twitter is instant WEATHER alerts literally for your backyard (from regular people who follow the radar readings). Since our power was out– (during tornado activity) knew to take cover or not.
    Also nice to have some ppl (“people”) to talk to when house too quiet.
    Takes a while to learn the shortcuts– but worth it.

    Hope that helps.

  14. 17



    I would wholeheartedly welcome and support a conservative alternative to Facebook. But, te key is simply not clicking on Facebook advertisements or pumping money into Facebook apps like FarmVille.

  15. 18


    Do not fear little people, Big Brother Zuckerberg is here to make sure you know what you can say and what you should hear. Remember 2 + 2 = 5.

  16. 19

    Mean Granny

    I just shared this article on Facebook. I like getting in people’s faces. If they want to close my account down, that’s fine with me. I lived a long time before FB ever came along, and I’ll live a long time after they’re gone.

  17. 20


    I thought the whole basic premise of the internet was freedom of expression, and now we have these leftie dictators at facebook shutting it down. Any person in this country who beleives in internet freedom should do whatever they can to destroy these proto dictators immediately.

    Ever notice that it is always the left that constantly talks about the importance of free speech, and then is the first to shut it down when it comes from somebody that disagrees with them. Of course Facebook is a private company and has the right to ban free speech on its site. We have the right to no longer patronize that sight, and tell them why. Let us see which is more important to them, their leftie dictatorial impulses, or their desire for profit. If their leftie dictatorial impulses turn out to dominate, I hope they choke on this, and fade away, just like MySpace did.

  18. 23

    Gary G. Swenchonis

    @Skookum: Skook you hit the pinned the tail on the donkey! I agree with you and others for some time now that we the people need something like Facebook. But unfortunately that may take sometime. Most geeks subscribe to the liberal ideology. It will no doubt take some ultra rich and conservative individual who can hire enough geeks to build a new and improved Facebook. In the meantime the young liberal geeks will blindly follow their liberal leaders and back their decision to limit “too much freedom”. I bet you that the powers to be in China told Facebook that part of the deal would be “limited access, and speech”. Which is the opposite of liberal beliefs. Thats what just blows me away with how people can follow such blatant hypocrisy that the liberal belief system is riddled with. Great post Mata!

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