Facebook Bans Independent Media in Antifascist Purge
“Facebook banning leftwing media is the logical end point of begging a US-based corporate publishing monopoly to arbitrate truth.”
Facebook announced yesterday it has removed hundreds of “Facebook Pages, Groups and Instagram accounts” connected to “offline anarchist groups that support violent acts amidst protests, US-based militia organizations and QAnon.”
The social media giant also took actions to limit pages’ reach by limiting their search ranking and prohibiting the use of ads.
Facebook explicitly connected Antifa to “militia organizations and those encouraging riots” in their statement.
Despite President Trump’s repeated attacks against Antifa, the decentralized network of activists has not been connected to violence at protests and the FBI found “no intel indicating Antifa involvement” in protests in Washington DC on the same Trump tweeted his plans to designate Antifa as a terrorist organization.
At the beginning of July, Facebook banned groups connected to the far-right Boogaloo movement.
Censoring Independent Media
While Facebook has taken previous measures against far-right groups on the platform, the latest move was spread across the ideological spectrum.
Several independent media outlets were caught in the fray and took umbrage with being grouped together with groups they argue they are fighting back against.
It’s Going Down, one of the media organization hit by the latest ban, said, “make no mistake, suppressing the voices of those who seek to protect their communities from institutional and white supremacist violence is an intentional decision to normalize violence as long as the ones employing it hold institutional power – or support those who do.”
Other independent media outlets unaffected by the ban also called out the perceived hypocrisy from big technology companies.
Citations Needed, a left-wing media criticism podcast, said on Twitter, “Facebook banning leftwing media is the logical end point of begging a US-based corporate publishing monopoly to arbitrate truth.”
Increasing pressure has been put on Facebook and other social media giants, and corporations like Facebook and Twitter have responded by pouring money into lobbying and political consulting.
Facebook and Twitter have, to varying degrees, began to weigh in at one of the highest levels in recent months. Twitter has put warning labels on tweets from President Trump and other Republican politicians for glorifying violence. For its part, Facebook has intervened and removed ads from official President Trump pages that used Nazi concentration camp symbols.
Attempts to Appear Neutral
The latest announcement from Facebook followed a growing pattern from social media companies to target both ends of the political spectrum in order to appear more neutral.
In late June, Reddit banned both right-wing and left-wing communities while providing very little information as to why any specific group was banned from the platform.
In 2018, Facebook targeted several hundred pages on its platform for spreading misinformation, deleting several independent media organization’s pages. Facebook’s Head of Cybersecurity Nathaniel Gleicher co-authored the misinformation ban announcement, and it notably a former White House National Security Council director of cybersecurity policy.
Also caught up in previous bans and the most recent wave are activists and organizing groups. Various cop-watch pages were removed in 2018, and the PNW Youth Liberation Front was dinged by Facebook yesterday.
Facebook also banned personal accounts of musicians tangentially connected to antifascist or anarchist groups.