The year 2018 saw Facebook clamping down on hundreds of pages they say are exhibiting “spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.” The result, however, is that most of those that have been removed were pages that are pro-freedom, those that are active in their efforts to expose anomalies in the government and society as a whole.
IMAGE: Screenshot of Facebook page deleted. Photo taken from TN
What’s more disconcerting is that these Facebook pages were built from scratch for years, and at the time of their deletion, they had amassed thousands and even millions of followers. Years of Facebook marketing strategies, maybe even thousands of dollars in Facebook ads, and millions of page likes, all gone. Below are some of the Facebook pages I’m talking about:
- The Free Thought Project: 3.1 million followers
- The Anti Media: 2.1 million followers
- Police the Police: 1.9 million followers
- Cop Block: 1.7 million followers
- Filming Cops: 1.4 million followers
- Choice & Truth: 2.9 million followers
- Punk Rock Libertarians: 125 thousand followers
- End The Drug War: 460 thousand followers
- Mass Report: 500 thousand followers
- Press For Truth: 350 thousand followers
As you can see, these Facebook pages had a massive number of followers, but they are all gone since the social media site shut down the pages.
Facebook stood by its decision that these pages violated their terms of service for spamming and inauthentic activity. The company’s full statement about the matter can be read in a post written by Facebook Head of Cybersecurity Policy, Nathaniel Gleicher and Product Manager, Oscar Rodriguez.
In the statement, the company claims that the 559 pages and 251 accounts they removed violated their terms of service by using fake accounts or multiple accounts to post content in different groups and pages in order to drive traffic to their website and appear more popular than they really are. Still, other pages were only ad farms, misleading people and making them think that the pages were legitimate platforms for political debate.
Reading between the lines
The company said that they didn’t look at the content posted by the deleted pages and accounts, but instead they looked at the behavior. This sounds very much like stifling freedom of speech which is against the US constitution. It’s comparable to dispersing a crowd of rallyists just because their behavior is annoying (although not illegal).
The timing of this purging project is also an element worth looking into. Even Facebook felt the need to mention in the statement that the spamming and inauthentic activities were timed “ahead of the US midterm elections.” It can be deduced that by trying to stop the manipulation of politics, Facebook is actually manipulating politics.
There will be lawsuits related to this, for sure, and wasn’t Google fined a hefty £2.1 billion in 2018 for removing competitors from their search results? There’s definitely a precedence for situations like this, and it was set by Google, another Internet giant.