Leftist Group Falsely Accuses Facebook of Targeting It for Censorship

A far-left activist group is upset at Facebook because the social network company is blocking it from using Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s image as a means to attack him via his own creation.

CREDO Mobile, a small cellphone operator which uses left-wing activism as a way to promote its business (apparently some corporations are people), has launched a new campaign to condemn Zuckerberg because money which he donated to FWD.us, a political group he helped found, was used to run an ad promoting the Keystone XL pipeline, a project which environmental groups are seeking to block.

Even though Zuckerberg himself did not authorize the money directly to the ads (which feature South Carolina Republican senator Lindsay Graham), the fact that he was giving money at all to promote an idea heretical to conventional upper-class environmentalism is something that CREDO Mobile thinks must be stopped. That granting federal approval to the project is supported by many Democrats and the AFL-CIO is of little concern.

To try to force Zuckerberg into changing his mind, the leftist operation launched an activism campaign targeting him personally through a Facebook advertising campaign using Zuckerberg’s image accompanied by the phrase “Hey Zuck, pull your ads supporting Keystone XL.” 

The social network company blocked the ad since it very clearly is a violation of Facebook’s long-standing policy of banning ads which contain Facebook logos or pictures of Facebook personnel. As a company spokesperson told NewsBusters:

“We generally reject ads that contain Mark’s image because— not surprisingly—in our experience those ads tend to be confusing for users, and frequently misleading. Users may click on the ad thinking it is a message from Mark or from Facebook, not understanding that they are actually in an advertisement seeking to take advantage of Mark’s image.”

This is a perfectly reasonable policy and one which is designed to protect users from advertising which could be misleading. In fact, some jurisdictions, such as the UK, explicitly prohibit advertising which could be construed as coming from a third-party. But CREDO wants a different set of rules for itself. The Washington Post reported yesterday that the group is upset that its ad was blocked:

CREDO Mobile political director Becky Bond criticized the policy, saying that it should not apply when groups criticize Zuckerberg’s private actions outside of his role as Facebook’s chief executive officer.

Given Zuckerberg’s growing involvement in politics, Bond said, she thinks it’s ridiculous that “you can’t use Facebook ads to talk about what Mark Zuckerberg is doing.”

This is a misleading statement considering that CREDO is perfectly free to attack Zuckerberg on his own creation. It just has been disallowed from doing so with photographs of Zuckerberg himself. Talk about looking a gift horse in the mouth.

According to the Post, the company believes that not using Zuckerberg’s image would make the ads less effective, even though it has not tested whether or not that actually is the case.

Even though it was blocked from purchasing the ad (seen above), Facebook has allowed CREDO to post the picture twice on its organizational “fan page,” something that has not been widely reported. The radical cellphone operator also does not appear to have attacked Zuckerberg or Fwd.us for running ads supportive of permissive immigration reform laws. 

This is not the first time that CREDO has promoted spurious accusations of censorship against Facebook. In February of this year, the group claimed that Facebook was blocking it from posting a link to pictures of a protest it held outside Zuckerberg’s residence after he held a fund-raiser for New Jersey Republican governor Chris Christie. Instead, a computer filter program designed to block spam postings had incorrectly deemed a link to the photos to be spam. A link to the photos created via a separate URL shortening program posted just fine according to the San Francisco Chronicle. In a separate conversation with NewsBusters several weeks ago, Facebook informed us that its algorithms will occasionally make such errors, particularly with “shortened” URLs generated by such services as bitly.

One gets the distinct impression that the CREDO smear campaign against Zuckerberg is an attempt to bully the 28-year-old billionaire into being too afraid to support other causes opposed by extreme left groups. Thus far, he appears to have been the only wealthy FWD.us donor targeted. 

In a Washington Post op-ed announcing the formation of the group, the Facebook founder stated he wanted to support “higher standards and accountability in schools,” “investment in breakthrough discoveries in scientific research,” in addition to “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Given that the former position puts Zuckerberg at odds with teacher union groups who oppose accountability standards, that both parties are big fans of scientific research (except for NASA which has been gutted by President Obama), and many Republicans are pushing their own variants of “comprehensive immigration reform,” it is conceivable that CREDO and other leftist groups have realized that a centrist billionaire could be a very powerful force.

Given the vicious hate campaigns that have been mounted against non-liberals like Rupert Murdoch or David and Charles Koch, the attacks on Mark Zuckerberg seem eerily familiar. Here is to hoping that Zuckerberg isn’t cowed by the cyber-bullies.

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