Jan Brewer: Facebook ‘Censored’ Post Critical of Obama Immigration Policy

Arizona governor Jan Brewer says she was "censored" by Facebook after a posting she made on the social network was removed by the site's staff. In her post, Brewer had criticized the Obama administration's recent decision to halt prosecutions of many illegal immigrants.

"Facebook censored the post and removed it because the photo apparently violated their 'Facebook Community Standards.' Before it was removed, it had received over 10,000 likes and comments," Brewer said in a subsequent post.

According to Brewer, the initial post was taken down because was because a comedic drawing of her face superimposed onto the famous "Rosie the Riveter" character from World War II was included in it. The picture has been used by Brewer for previous Facebook posts and exists in multiple locations on her official profile.

In a statement apologizing for the removal, Facebook did not state why the drawing triggered the censorship, however it is likely that this is yet another case of ever-so-tolerant liberals abusing web alert mechanisms to censor those with differing political opinions. This is a phenomenon, called "flag spam," is one that  I've written about before that seems to happen far more commonly to content that is put out by conservatives or libertarians:

Because of the proliferation of fake blogs, spam comments and phony videos, many interactive sites have added mechanisms to prevent a group discussion from being hijacked by allowing regular readers to “flag” things they come across that are offensive, obviously spam or violate copyright laws.

After enough complaints about a particular piece of content are raised, the “flagged” video or comment is removed from circulation and placed into a review system in which a pre-selected group of people review it and decide whether the reports are correct.

If the complaints are judged incorrect, the content is restored to the Internet. If not, it is kept out of public view.

It makes sense for Web sites to do this: They have the right to ensure that their sites aren’t turned into free advertisements for unsavory companies, after all.

What is harder to support, however, is that many Web sites’ flagging systems are themselves becoming targets of abuse - by malicious individuals intent on consigning the free speech of others behind the moderation firewall.

Again and again, we’ve seen popular Web sites and videos taken down, often through completely spurious complaints.

My guess is that we'll never hear from Facebook whether or not it was flag spammers who took Brewer's post down nor will we hear about what kinds of steps Facebook will take to stop conservative posts from being taken down.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013