Matt Margolis is a best-selling author and contributor to PJ Media. The last time he tried to advertise his latest book, The Scandalous Presidency of Barack Obama, on Facebook they banned him for a week for “spamming.” Facebook never explained how paying for advertising and then distributing that ad in conservative groups is “spamming.” Now Facebook is doing it to him again. This time Margolis attempted to buy an ad for the re-released and updated version of his first smash hit, The Worst President in History; The Legacy of Barack Obama. After filling out the appropriate form, Margolis received this response from Facebook: “Your ad was not approved because your Page has not been authorized to run ads with political content. What to do: Complete the authorization process.”
“I began the verification/authentication process because, frankly, I just wanted to get the ad up,” Margolis told PJM. “But as I proceeded, I became increasingly uncomfortable with the information they were asking for, and, given their record of bias toward conservatives, I wondered what they would really do with that information.” Facebook wanted his home address, both sides of his driver’s license (unredacted) and his Social Security number.
PJM contacted Facebook about this situation and was sent their new policy on “political ads” which, in part, states:
Any advertiser running election-related or issue ads who is located in or targeting people in designated countries must complete the authorization process required by Facebook.This applies to any ad that:
- Is made by, on behalf of or about a current or former candidate for public office, a political party, a political action committee or advocates for the outcome of an election to public office; or
- Relates to any election, referendum or ballot initiative, including “get out the vote” or election information campaigns; or
- Relates to any national legislative issue of public importance in any place where the ad is being run; or
- Is regulated as political advertising.
That’s awfully broad, but does it apply to authors of books? What’s an “issue ad”? These are things that are not fully explained by Facebook. PJ Media reached out to Facebook for clarification and at first received only a reiteration of the rules above and a phone call from one of their representatives who had no information to give, but who seemed more interested in what kind of article we were running.
Later, a Facebook representative, speaking on background, told PJM that the company will delete sensitive information after verifying it. But one can’t help but remember how that turned out for Snapchat subscribers.
A representative from Facebook communicated through email that after reviewing Margolis’ ad they stand by the decision that it’s a “political ad” because it contains a picture of the president. Further, they explained that it’s because of Russia.
“This is important because it will make it more difficult for anyone to do what the Russians did during the 2016 election,” the Facebook representative responded. Questions about what Russia did and why American advertisers have to pay for it went unanswered.
“I thought paying Facebook to boost ads was my best option to promote my work on social media, but apparently, now they’re finding ways to justify censoring me that way as well,” said Margolis.
Facebook has now put itself in the position of censoring books by default when authors don’t want to give out highly sensitive information. “I’ve been paying Facebook to promote ads for my books almost two years now,” said Margolis. “They review my ads, they know I’m just promoting books.” But ads for political books are not allowed on Facebook anymore without violating the author’s privacy.
“Facebook says this is to ensure transparency, but giving my home address and driver’s license to them to earn the privilege of promoting political content feels wrong, especially given their record of anti-conservative bias,” continued Margolis. “I’m just an author trying to promote my books to people who may want to read them. My privacy shouldn’t have to be invaded just to make a living.”
Maybe not, but if he wants to do it on Facebook, he’ll have to give up the information (to God knows who for God knows what) or find another means of advertising. It’s not just little guys like Margolis who are upset by the new draconian measures. Media outlets are hopping mad too. USA Today reported that “major news organizations, including USA TODAY, raised objections Friday to Facebook’s plans to treat ads promoting political news coverage the same as political advocacy ads.” Uh oh. The dinosaur media are mad! Break out the safe spaces! Media organizations that post political news stories are being hit too. According to a letter sent to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg by David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, the policy “dangerously blurs the lines between real reporting and propaganda.” You don’t say? Pardon while I laugh my beer out of my nose at the sheer myopathy on display. Did you not think they would ever come for you, oh water-carriers of the left?
Make sure you read the whole thing. It’s a laugh riot full of lofty, bloated platitudes likening modern journalism to freedom itself (har har har). “It is a fundamental mischaracterization of journalism that threatens to undermine its ability to play its critical role in society,” waxes the letter with no self-awareness at all.
It may be funny to watch the left finally catch on to the danger that Facebook poses to freedom of the press and speech, but the result isn’t a laughing matter at all. And frankly, the dinosaur media is very much to blame for covering up what Facebook has been doing to conservatives for years now. Welcome to the censorship party! There are no snacks and it’s no fun at all.