Late Tuesday evening, November 6th, and extending
into the early morning hours of Wednesday morning, Facebook carried out a
massive attack on Conservative Facebook Groups and Pages. Around 11pm Tuesday
night, reports began pouring in from numerous Conservative Group
Administrators, saying that Facebook was suddenly removing multiple posts from
their Groups, and issuing multiple Admin Warnings, along with threats that the
Group was becoming at risk for being disabled.
Not only was the extent of this attack unprecedented, but also the nature of the attack. Typically, when a post is removed from a Group/Page, the person who made the post is given a notification and a warning, and the Group Administrator is notified of the removal. Only in those cases where the Group has settings that require Admin approval of posts, does the Group receive a notification, and an Admin warning. Further, the Admin receives notification of exactly which post was removed, which group member made the post, which Facebook “standard” was violated, and there is an “appeal” option given so that the case might be submitted for review.
However, in this latest assault on Conservative groups, the rules of the game were drastically altered. Facebook simultaneously removed multiple posts from Groups, and did not notify the person who had made the post. Instead, Admin warnings were issued to all groups, one for each post removed, whether or not the Group settings required Admin approval. Admins were not shown which post had been removed, and in many cases were not told the name of the member who had made the post. In many cases Facebook did not specify which “standard” had been violated, and the “appeal” option was not given. Additionally, Admins were forced to
mute specific group members for varying lengths of time, which was an unprecedented move on Facebook’s part.
A most disturbing aspect of this assault was that, in those cases where Facebook did specify which standard had been violated, they cited “coordinating harm”. Most of the Admins were left scrambling to find out what that charge meant, as most had never encountered it. Briefly, “coordinating harm” refers to planned assaults, including terrorist attacks. Since Facebook did not let the Admins see which post had been removed or who had posted it, the Admins were totally unable to assess the situation. However, in one case where the Admins were able to trace both the person who made the post and the post itself, the offending post was a video of Rand Paul’s speech at a recent Trump rally, which contained nothing related to planning an assault or terrorist attack.
It is important to note that once a group has accumulated a certain number of Admin violations, it can be automatically disabled by Facebook. This is particularly noteworthy since we are entering into the Presidential Primaries, and Facebook is an established means of communication for Conservatives.
Over the past year or so there has been increasing attention given to Facebook’s censorship of Conservatives, a charge that Facebook has consistently denied. In response to this growing threat, numerous Admins from conservative Facebook political groups/pages had formed a group specifically designed as a communication hub, so that they might share information from their individual groups, about Facebook censorship. Without exception, the Facebook assault on Tuesday night was unprecedented, both in it’s scope and in it’s nature.
For the moment, it is unclear as to exactly what happened Tuesday night. Was it an algorithm error at Facebook, or was it a sinister coordinated attack by Facebook, designed to inflict harm on Conservative Groups/Pages? Thus far Facebook has made no mention of this attack, either in the media or to the Groups/Pages who were impacted. Currently, all of the Admin warning that were received that night still stand, making the Groups/Pages vulnerable to being disabled by Facebook.
Given that Tuesday was Election Day, had the attack occurred a few hours earlier, prior to the closing of the polls, one might even wonder if Facebook was engaging in interfering with the Elections.