Censored: Facebook Bans Conservative Articles on Jussie Smollett Hate Hoax
Over the weekend, Facebook prevented people from sharing two conservative articles on the unraveling case of Empire star Jussie Smollett, which seems to be a hate hoax. Both Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option: A Strategy for Christians in a Post-Christian Nation, and Daily Caller reporter Jen Kerns saw their articles censored on Facebook.
"You are not allowed to say on Facebook that Jussie Smollett carried out a hate hoax," Dreher tweeted on Sunday with a screenshot of Facebook blocking his article at The American Conservative.
According to the screenshot, Facebook blocked the article because it appeared to be "spam" and said the post "goes against our Community Standards."
Facebook lifted the ban later on Sunday.
On Saturday, lawyer Harmeet K. Dillon shared the news that Jen Kerns's article had been blocked, also allegedly for "violating community standards."
Rudy Takala also reported that Jen Kerns had been banned on Instagram.
Jen Kerns shared screenshots of the ban with PJ Media. Kerns told PJ Media that Facebook would not allow her to post the article as early as Friday.
Then when she tried to put the article in her Instagram bio, Instagram booted her from the account until she removed the link.
Rod Dreher's article merely shared the previous reporting on the case, with a few paragraphs of his opinion sprinkled in. Jen Kerns compared the Jussie Smollett apparent hoax with the 1980s hoax perpetrated by Tawana Brawley.
In a follow-up article about the Facebook ban, Rod Dreher attempted to make sense of Facebook's decision.
I fully support Facebook or any other social medium having a policy of banning certain material (porn, neo-Nazi propaganda, etc.). But when you can’t talk about hate hoaxes in general, or about a celebrated hate hoax in particular? Presumably my blog post violated Facebook’s “hate speech” prohibition (I can’t find any of their other Community Standards that it might have violated). Facebook’s policy on “hate speech” is here. This, I suppose, is what my blog post violated:
But the entire reason for the post is new evidence indicating that Jussie Smollett was NOT a victim of a hate crime, but rather faked a hate crime!
The move indeed seems rather head-scratching.
Facebook also censored a pair of conservative articles last August as news broke surrounding the Paul Manafort conviction and the Michael Cohen guilty plea. Both articles countered the prevailing liberal narrative about these events.
It seems these bouts of censorship are likely caused by liberal Facebook users marking articles as "spam." The social media company later removed the blocks, but censoring articles in the hours after their publication does a serious disservice in the news industry, where fresh information has the most pertinent impact.
Even if Facebook is not behind the initial decision to block, the company should make sure the posts are "spam" before blocking them, rather than allowing some Social Justice Warrior to silence news on the internet.
Follow Tyler O'Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.