Boringly normal political statements from the Indiana Republican Party are now “spam” and violate Facebook’s community standards. Is it any wonder that conservatives distrust Big Tech and many populists on the Right are now calling for government to regulate social media?
Five years ago, the Indiana Republican Party issued a press release questioning the residency of the Democratic candidate for state auditor. I posted the text of that press release on my personal Facebook profile, only to find when I looked at my “memories” page that Facebook had decided that the post is “spam” and does not meet community guidelines. How so? The URL provided was to an official county government website in Florida and statements such as this are common in politics. In every single election cycle there is a candidate or political party questioning a candidate’s residency.
Is the press release “hate speech” under Facebook’s guidelines? Surely Facebook does not consider it doxxing, since a candidate’s residency is public information. Exactly what rule did I break? Can anyone at Facebook explain this to me? It is especially strange that this press release was deemed in violation of community guidelines five years after the fact, when the post was perfectly fine sitting in my archives for years. How many other old political posts are being zapped by Facebook? Is Facebook creating new “rules” out of thin air in order to meddle in the election against Republican candidates?
I am opposed to government regulating content on social media, because the government will inevitably make things worse. But I understand the populist urge to restrict what social media can censor on the grounds that social media is the modern day public square. Republicans and conservatives need to be aware that when we are posting on social media, we are posting in hostile enemy territory and they would like nothing more than for us to shut up and go away. We need to be thinking about alternative means to getting our message out, because even state political parties are vulnerable to censorship.