Fox News Radio host Todd Starnes recently was temporarily blocked by Facebook for having posted this riff:
“I’m about as politically incorrect as you can get. I’m wearing an NRA ball cap, eating a Chick-fil-A sandwich, reading a Paula Deen cookbook and sipping a 20-ounce sweet tea while sitting in my Cracker Barrel rocking chair with the Gather Vocal Band singing ‘Jesus Saves’ on the stereo and a Gideon’s Bible in my pocket. Yes sir, I’m politically incorrect and happy as a June bug.”
Provocative, yes. Outrageous, nah. The burst of conservative defiance clearly didn’t violate Facebook’s “community standards,” a conclusion that even Facebook reached after some consideration. So the company unblocked Starnes and apologized. As the Erik Wemple Blog noted over the weekend, the sequence bore a resemblance to an incident from last November, when a user faced adverse action from Facebook after posting an anti-Obama meme.
When asked about his take on the situation this morning in an appearance on “Fox & Friends,” Starnes went broad:
“Over the past year, I’ve been monitoring a lot of these attacks on conservative Facebook pages. People have been getting blocked, many people can’t even repost things from my site on their pages, or they’ll get in trouble. And last year we did a story about a group called the “Chicks on the Right,” a couple of conservative ladies out in Indianapolis. They were actually threatened with, to shut down their entire site because they dared to criticize the White House. So it looks like Facebook has some problem with conservatives.”
Miriam Weaver, one of the aforementioned “Chicks on the Right,” confirms a brush with Facebook’s monitors early this year. As it turns out, Weaver had written a post about White House Press Secretary Jay Carney and promoted it on Facebook with this caption: “Jay Carney can kiss my assular area.”
As Weaver tells the Erik Wemple Blog, that flourish prompted the complete blockage of her personal account. “The reason we were given was simply that the title of my FB entry…That’s it.”
“Chicks on the Right” used their Web tools to mobilize their people, and Starnes himself picked up on it. Writes Weaver via e-mail, “That exposure, we’re convinced, is what led Facebook to apologize and reinstate my account/privileges. Had it not been for that media exposure, we’d probably still be blocked today.”
At the root of the problem, suggests Weaver, is political rivalry. “We know that there is a concerted effort by liberals to mass report pages like ours as spam or as inappropriate content. The more people report it, even when there’s no justification to report it, the easier it is for Facebook’s algorithms to be tripped off and for pages like ours to get the warnings and blocking that we got.” After the Facebook problem, “Chicks on the Right” received an apology from the company, not to mention assistance from a friendly representative. In a post, the site complimented Facebook’s emissary: “She also happens to be a supporter of our page! So contrary to popular belief, there are friendly conservatives who WORK for Facebook. And they are helpful and courteous and understanding about how we can be needlessly attacked by crazy liberals who get their jollies by starting pages designed SOLELY to harass and silence us.”
The Erik Wemple Blog gives thanks that we’re tasked with writing about Facebook’s ideological battles, not refereeing them.