On Sunday, two conservative bloggers accused Facebook of selectively enforcing rules that are either non-existent or not made known to the millions of people who use the site. Diane Sori, a Florida-based conservative who blogs at the Patriot Factor, and Craig Andresen of the National Patriot basically argued that Facebook is arbitrarily punishing conservatives using non-existent policies in order to silence criticism of Barack Obama.
The accusations stem from an incident involving the Facebook page "Barracuda Brigade for Our American Girl! 2012," a community fan page supporting Sarah Palin.
One of the site administrators posted an anti-Islamic link, prompting Facebook to remove the link while warning all of the administrators. Some of the administrators were let off with a warning, while others were banned for 3-30 days.
Sori, who did not have Internet access at the time the link was posted and had nothing to do with the link, was banned for 30 days. Worse yet, Andresen said, most have had their "sentences" commuted, but Sori remains in "time-out" for something she had no part of.
Facebook refused to respond to her pleas for help, but Katie Harbath, a Washington, D.C.-based employee, heard of her situation while attending BlogBash and asked Sori to provide more information, which she did.
But Harbath said there was nothing she could do.
"Looked into this and our policies are to hold all admins accountable for what is posted to a page so we won't remove the ban. Let me know if you have any additional questions," she told Sori in an email.
This prompted Sori and Andresen to look through Facebook's posted rules to see if that was the case. After poring over the information publicly available, both bloggers said nothing in the rules said that all administrators are responsible for posted content.
"I have SCOURED the FB rules, regulations and policies and can find NOTHING of this sort in them ANYWHERE!" Andresen wrote.
We reached out to Harbath to clarify the rules, but have not received a response.
Both bloggers believe Sori is the victim of selective and arbitrary enforcement of rules that do not appear to exist, and Sori suspects Facebook will change the publicly posted rules to cover their actions.
Both bloggers also believe the ban is politically motivated, as Sori is an outspoken critic of the Obama administration.
The concerns raised by Sori and Andresen are not without merit.
Last August, for example, Facebook defended a page that openly advocated the murder of GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, despite rules that clearly state users cannot "do anything unlawful" or post content that is threatening.
The page was eventually removed after being live for the better part of a month, but Facebook stood by the page until the bitter end, saying that it did not violate the site's terms and conditions.
Another page, "I hate it when I wake up and Sarah Palin is still alive," continues to flourish despite an April 2011 post that suggested killing former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin.
But Facebook reportedly banned a Texas man for posting, "Seizing the day with baby Obama.”
The social media giant also targeted another conservative page, "Chicks on the Right," but backtracked and apologized after the incident was reported by Fox News' Todd Starnes.
In February, an anti-illegal immigration group accused Facebook of blocking ads for an anti-Obama protest, even though the ads were already paid for.
Since the beginning of 2013, hundreds of conservatives have told Examiner that they, too, have been subjected to treatment they consider viewpoint discrimination for simply commenting on posts or sharing links.
It is also interesting to note that Facebook gave Obama $95,107 in the 2012 election, while donating only $20,100 to Mitt Romney, according to data available at OpenSecrets.org. The company gave somewhat more to GOP House candidates than Democrats, but Senate Democrats garnered more in contributions than Republicans.
The social media site also hosted a townhall event for Obama last April, but we were unable to find a similar event for Romney.
Sori believes that Facebook has "morphed" into a "mouthpiece for Obama," but promises not to be silenced.
Andresen was more pointed in his message to Facebook.
"Enough of the harassment," he wrote. "Enough of your non-existent policies."
"Enough of selective enforcement of your policies whether posted publicly as they SHOULD be or not," he added.
- Report: Facebook bans Texas man for 'likening' a friend to a liberal
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- Facebook targets conservative page for closure, backtracks and apologizes
- White House yanks petition asking for action on Facebook censorship
- Is Facebook actively censoring conservative bloggers?
- Do Facebook policies banning users squelch free speech?
- Facebook page calling for death of Sarah Palin gets more violent