Facebook Says Ivey’s Censorship Was Wrong, But Critics Still See Bias | Alabama
Facebook’s censorship of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey’s campaign page lasted less than an hour on Tuesday, but it was enough to heighten anxiety among critics who accuse the social media company of bias.
The message in question, on Friday, said Ivey was “standing in the way” of President Joe Biden’s proposed mandate that some 80 million workers at large employers were getting vaccinated. On Tuesday, for a while, Facebook sent a message saying “Your page has not been published” for violating the company’s “community standards.”
Ivey made a provocative statement, “If big tech thinks they can shut us up and I won’t fight back, then honey, they haven’t met me. They have something else to come. I don’t back down. I never will. We are fighting Washington. We will also fight big tech.
Facebook told FOX10 News that the page was falsely flagged as an impostor account.
“Earlier today, the governor’s campaign page was mistakenly restricted for less than an hour for reasons unrelated to the content posted,” the company said in a statement. “When we learned of our mistake, the page was quickly restored. “
Facebook critics, however, argue that the incident highlights the inordinate power of the company and other social media companies. Ryan Hartwig, who wrote a book last month accusing Facebook of treating conservatives more harshly in enforcing its speech policies, said the biases were clear.
“I have at least 40 examples of them being biased towards one side,” said Hartwig, whose book is “Behind the Mask of Facebook: The Shocking Story of a Big Tech Bias and Censorship Whistleblower.”
Hartwig worked for Cognizant, a company hired by Facebook, and worked for two years as a moderator of the social media site. He said it was obvious Facebook had a political agenda and it came from above.
“Facebook has a bias,” he said. “I mean, it’s beyond the anecdotal, beyond – it’s not just a talking point for Republicans to play the victim. It is in fact in progress.
Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research, told FOX10 News his research shows that Google alone displaced 6 million votes in the 2020 presidential election.
“Now I happen to like the steering, because I’m leaving on my own,” he said. “But I think this is unacceptable, because it takes away from free and fair elections. This means that free and fair elections are just an illusion.
Epstein said Facebook had not been as aggressive as Google, but argued it was also biased against the Tories.
“Sometimes they say it’s a mistake, then they fix it, and sometimes they delete it permanently,” he said. “The question is, do we want private companies like Facebook and Google to have that kind of power? I don’t think they should have that kind of power to do that to anyone for any reason.
Alabama State Auditor Jim Zeigler, a frequent critic of Ivey who explores a primary Republican challenge against her, has a long list of grievances with the incumbent. But he stands with her against Facebook’s involvement in regulating speech.
The controversy, Zeigler said, helps deflect attention from Ivey’s successful attempt to raise the gas tax, his unsuccessful attempt to build a toll bridge over Interstate 10, and other issues .
“This Facebook action, mistaken or not, will actually help Governor Ivey with voters in Alabama that she frankly needs help with,” he said.
Hartwig said Facebook monitors speech on its site through a combination of “bots,” artificial intelligence that flags keywords, and human moderators who review material. He said there are around 10,000 of these moderators working in the United States.
He said that while working, Facebook asked moderators to carefully examine President Donald Trump’s State of the Union speech for “hate speech.” Trump has since been banned from the platform.
Hartwig said Facebook will make exceptions to its own rules, often in favor of progressives.
“It’s more than just, you know, a few rogue content moderators,” he said. “It is clearly coming from above.”
Facebook has increasingly found itself in the position of please angry conservatives who see bias while drawing fire from progressives who believe the company hasn’t done enough to eliminate it. which they consider to be “disinformation” about COVID-19 and other topics.
Epstein ultimately said that it doesn’t matter whether Facebook has been pressured to censor or is enthusiastically participating in it.
“I really don’t care. The question is who makes the decisions? he said. “Are the American people making the decisions? Is it a non-partisan organization that makes the decisions? Is it a government agency? And no, it’s literally that some executives are accountable, not to the public. They are only legally responsible to their shareholders.
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