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. 202


    Eagle ll
    what a story, what a hell to fall into for the bravest, how can we forgive those atrocious behaviors,
    they have stayed in that ancient beastly times and their genes are infected, they never will be real human, too much beast genes master their behavior.
    no you are not getting spam, I came out too from it catcha because of one word, you’r not the only one, other go to it, the server has a code that cut some words because it offend certain, I don’t mind it, I just play the words crooked and click to post my comment and take away the word which they showed to be offensive, we must follow the rules if we want to send our message, and from now to NOVEMBER, IT IS OUTMOST IMPORTANT,don’t you agree? there is no other way, and it is really not important enough to get angry, because CURT IS THE BEST IN CARING FOR HIS BLOG, LIKE MATA said, CURT does not cut one, unless he has made many errors to become unforgiveble.
    thank you for your kind words, I appreciate it all, and you all have a special place in my hearth as the bravest of this AMERICA, and you all must be pamper by AMERICANS, BECAUSE YOU GAVE SO MUCH MORE, AND DESERVE THE BEST OF AMERICA.

  2. 203


    Eagle ll
    I must remind you that you have reach the 200 comment, which mean I must congratulate you for it,
    we play that game of getting the 100 comments here, and it’s not as easy to get, unless you get lucky like you just did hit 200.

  3. 204


    EAGLE ll
    I have your long post on my site, it might have been taken out for the length,
    I just wanted you to know it’s not lost and the link is very nice, the top picture is super nice with the planes moving,

  4. 205

    Eagle II

    @ilovebeeswarzone: I came to peek see… you have seen a story that isn’t published here How? It was marked as SPAM and if I hadn’t tried to edit – would not have known… yet, here is your comment about Ted Guy’s PoW experience in part – no print could ever fully describe that torture. May Col. Guy wiz on the unrighteous from his place behind the pearly gates – and those who like to play games ( maybe it makes them feel important ) with posts

    Later… have a great life. We UN-subbed from the thread and removed the tic off this send re: updates.

  5. 206


    Eagle ll
    while you gave me that last comment, I was telling you above that I had your comment on my site, and found that it was not here at fa, so I notice it to MATA, AND WE WILL HEAR FROM IT, WHEN THEY CAN.
    CHECK MY COMMENT, SO WHEN I answer I had read it on my site, before coming at FA,
    so that is that, I just notice after my answer to you, because I couldn’t find it here,
    anyway MATA knows about it,
    bye dont get upset yet

  6. 207


    Eagle ll
    don’t tell me that I’m playing games, you have the proof of the contrary, with my comment,
    about it, meant that I had it on my site, like all other comments of the post,
    which I always read on my site first, how could I knew it was not shown on FA, that’s why I told you
    I”M NOT THE TYPE TO PLAY GAME, keep that in mind

  7. 208


    It’s not the first time I receive comments that have been out on FA,
    THAT’s why I only find out if I recheck the comment at FA, and because I read it at my site, I answer without rechecking,
    do you understand that? I thought you where advance in computer, because of what I read from you, able to start a site like PATRIOTS,
    I just don’t like the way you left, on your last comment,
    edit; and you owe me an apology for thinking what you said

  8. 209



    Eagle II: My post were “deleted” some one ex post facto thought they were “SPAM” cause they didn’t read the link.

    Eagle II, only Curt will “delete” “post factor”. We authors do possess that power, but leave all SPAM filter settings and deleting of comments up to Curt only. His threshold is extremely high for that action, so I doubt he did so. I assure you, if you were being manually deleted as SPAM, or had been added to the spam filter when it was manually deleted (as it usually does), *none* of your comments whining about it would show up here either. Obviously, that is not the case.

    If you have a problem, you can email Curt with the contact information above, and ask about spam filter settings, and what words/phrasing/posting habits may automatically trigger them. My suggestion is that you don’t start out with the false accusations you level here. You might get a better reception

  9. 210


    Eagle ll
    okay, it’s here now, and I’m glad for all will read that story.from an incredible bravest,
    take care

    edit; by the way, I think your site is beautiful
    the best I have seen so far, thank you for being a patriot

  10. 211


    Eagle ll
    you said; we UN-subbed from the thread and removed the tic off this send re-updates,
    does that mean that you don’t receive any of my messages, well that is sad, because your story is back here for all to read, and you will never know, and also you will never know the real story of why your comment came back, and MATA message with it.

  11. 212


    @Eagle II:

    I have noticed that on rare occasion some of my post’s that have contained quite a few web-links have triggered a robotic ‘due to the number of links, this post has been classified as SPAM’ (I don’t remember exactly the message the server gave, but it was something like that.) message. And that it therefore was not posted. That doesn’t mean I was “Censored” or that all my messages were being blocked, it was simply an insentient server response because my post happened to have triggered SPAM flagged criteria. (I’ve managed a number of websites and similar such anti-SPAM flags and filters are very necessary.)

    That’s why I usually type my posts in a word processing program before posting them. If the server rejects it, I still have the message to modify in order to pass the SPAM filter. I can also break-up my post into more than one if need be. It may also be that certain sites may be purposely blocked or “blacklisted” (Servers will often block or “blacklist” certain sites that are known to have imbedded virus’, trojan’s (or other malware) or websites that have been hacked and “infected” without the webmaster’s knowledge. Not saying this is the case with the web-links you provided, only that some Server/Internet Providers do this.) The webmaster of a site may have no control whatsoever in the blocking of some web addresses. Know that forums and “message boards” such as this are often targeted by unscrupulous or nefarious individuals, and political websites even more so (especially “conservative” websites.) I once operated a Constitutional issues forum on Delphi’s server and I saw plenty of messages posted with links to dangerous websites and nefarious hacker links and I was notified of messages that the server had blocked.

    This is no conspiracy or censorship. It’s most likely only mindless automation via set server filters. With the insecurity inherent on the web, it is often necessary to err on the side of protection to make the internet safer.

  12. 213


    I hope he get this one at least, he said to have un-subbed from the thread
    and removedthe tic off this send re-updates
    am I right to understand he signed out, to not receive the messages back?
    edit, he has a link to his site on one comment above, it’s nice, you might contact him there better,
    in we patriot on 194 comment

  13. 214


    EAGLE ll
    FEBRUARY 21 2012, I CAME to check if you have re sign at FA, to answer my comment,
    hope your anger has faded and gone away, because it was unfounded, as I explained to you before.
    you over estimate my knowledge in computer, I could possibly not have been able to cut any other comments here, but I also have been cut sometimes, so that’s okay I came back to it again and retype , because I like this place, and
    what I wanted to express, my ego was telling me that I was saying an important message and that I had to
    give it, that was on my beginning here, many times it cut me, as my ENGLISH LANGUAGE WAS HORRIBLE then slowing me much more than now, but I improve to an acceptable speed enough for the server to accept me, but my computer ignorance is still very low, and I know you are an expert,
    I’m still on first grade, so, just to say that you owe me an excuse,
    take care bye


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