The long arm of Facebook’s political censorship

While the spokesman for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez can tweet expletives and insults on Twitter with no pushback from the platform, Facebook has recently blocked This Is America listeners from sharing the podcast on Facebook.

For example, one listener reported to the Valdes staff, “I just tried sharing your podcast on fb using the share button on the podcast module and a fb notice popped up saying "Your message couldn’t be sent because it includes content that other people on Facebook have reported as abusive."

Unfortunately, This Is America listeners are not the only ones to face political censorship on Facebook. On Thursday, Breitbart News reported Facebook’s lengthy process to label users as “hate agents.”

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Facebook’s policy relies on several “signals” that determine if someone should be banned from the platform, including “a wide range of on- and off-platform behavior,” Allum Bokhari at Breitbart wrote. “If you praise the wrong individual, interview them, or appear at events alongside them, Facebook may categorize you as a ‘hate agent’.”

Facebook also uses a three-tiered system to determine “hate speech,” and has reportedly considered comments about a person’s “immigration status” to be hate speech.

Facebook has placed individuals on their list of potential “hate agents” for a wide range of reasons. For example, on October 21 of last year, Facebook tagged British politician Carl Benjamin with a “hate agent” signal for “neutral representation of John Kinsman, member of Proud Boys.”

As Bokhari noted, the Benjamin addition “reveals that Facebook may categorize you as a hate agent merely for speaking neutrally about individuals and organizations that the social network considers hateful.”

This is the kind of stuff George Orwell dreamed up for his novel 1984, but Facebook’s invasion of privacy has made political censorship all too much a reality.


Rachel Kookogey is a contributor to
Follow on Twitter @rach_kookogey