Have you ever criticized a posting on Facebook? Something you found offensive and outrageous?
Would you be surprised if Facebook took down the offensive posting and punished the holder of the account that posted it?
Or would you expect Facebook to take down your posting and punish you?
Kyle Reyes recently called out a Facebook comment that celebrated the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in Mississippi. Here’s what the comment said:
“Oh well another day another dead pig”
Reyes, the chief executive officer of The Silent Partner Marketing, of Manchester, Connecticut, is also a New Boston Post contributor and consultant. On his Facebook page he suggested readers take note of the floral business owned by the Facebook account holder whose account posted the pro-cop-killing comment. (The account holder later said her boyfriend used her account to post the comment, but even if that’s true Reyes had no way of knowing that at the time.)
Facebook took down Reyes’s posting of a screenshot of the original pro-cop-killing comment twice, then banned him from his personal Facebook page for 24 hours. How about the pro-cop-killing comment maker? The post was allowed to stand, and the account holder wasn’t punished.
Four days after New Boston Post started asking questions, Facebook ‘fessed up to making a mistake.
That’s a necessary and un-fun step, and we credit Facebook for it.
But what is Facebook going to do about its well-documented problems with how it treats conservatives and the things conservatives care about?
Let’s be clear: There’s no law that says Facebook needs to do anything about it, and there shouldn’t be. The First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech restricts the government, not companies and individuals. As a private business, Facebook can do anything it wants when it comes to presenting information and points of view.
But Facebook made a big show last year of claiming to want to be fair to all sides. Facebook founder and head Mark Zuckerberg hosted a meeting of conservatives at the company’s headquarters in California in May 2016 after reports surfaced that Facebook employees were inserting liberal stories into its Trending Topics and spiking conservative stories. Conservatives have said for a long time that the company uses its “community standards” policy to muzzle conservatives.
At one point during the meeting with conservatives, Jennifer Braceras, at the time the editor-in-chief of New Boston Post, suggested to Zuckerberg that Facebook could simply drop the pretense of merely reporting trends and just call the stories it pushes “Facebook Favorites” — with an implicit nod that if the company is pushing liberal stories to its readers, it could at least be up front about it.
But Zuckerberg said no, that Facebook is open to all political perspectives. As for the community-standards problem, Facebook executives said they would do a better job explaining the standards and making them more transparent.
With respect to Kyle Reyes, call the new-and-improved version of enforcing community standards a failure. Celebrating the killing of a law enforcement officer isn’t a violation of community standards, apparently. But somehow, somebody at Facebook decided that criticizing the celebration of the killing of a law enforcement officer was a violation of community standards.
Nor is Reyes’s experience an isolated incident.
Hey Facebook: You can’t have it both ways. If you’re going to try to be fair to all sides, then be fair. If not, then at least level with us.