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By Joe Newby
There has been a lot of talk recently about the double-standards used by Facebook, the social media giant once dubbed “Iron FistBook” by cartoonist A.F. Branco. This is by no means a new issue and in fact, has been going on for a long time.
Here, for your consideration, is a look at just one aspect of those double-standards, from “Banned: How Facebook Enables Militant Islamic Jihad,” a book written in 2016 by myself and American-Israeli Adina Kutnicki. As far as we know, this is the first book ever published that focuses specifically on Facebook censorship.
The excerpt below is from Chapter Four of that book, entitled, “HOW FACEBOOK DEALS WITH PAGES AND GROUPS OPPOSED TO MILITANT JIHAD VERSUS HOW IT DEALS WITH PAGES AND GROUPS SUPPORTING IT.”
No discussion of Facebook and militant jihad would be complete without a thorough examination of the methods used by Facebook to enable those who long for a global Islamic caliphate while at the same time restricting and silencing those who oppose it.
Over the last several years, the social media giant has employed a number of tactics to silence dissent. The primary tactic, of course, remains what Internet users have long referred to as the ban hammer. Step out of line, say one wrong thing, and the hapless user is relegated to the blackest darkness of Internet “hell” where there is weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. We’ll take a look at some examples of how Facebook enables jihad by telling the stories of pages, groups and users who have endured Facebook’s wrath.
UNCLE SAM’S MISGUIDED CHILDREN
In July 2013, a very popular pro-veteran page named Uncle Sam’s Misguided Children was mysteriously unpublished by Facebook. At the time, the page boasted over 600,000 supporters with readers worldwide. The page was well known for its hard-edged commentary and politically incorrect memes, many of which were aimed straight
at militant Islam. Keep in mind the intended audience were veterans and those who support them. Facebook decided to unpublish the page, telling owner Rick Ferran it contained hate speech and nudity. After personally reviewing the content, which was still available to
administrators, of which I was made one for the purposes of my reporting, I was able to determine that Facebook’s moderators either needed a refresher course in English or were playing fast and loose with the facts.
There was no nudity, although the page had pictures of attractive women in bikinis. The page was brought back up for a short time but was unpublished within hours. Ferran, a veteran
of the United States Marine Corps who escaped Castro’s Cuba, wasn’t fazed, and proceeded to create another page. That too was torn down. This pattern has continued for the last two and a half years.
Ferran is now on the fourth version of the page, and has also had two very large groups closed down. Additionally, he has been personally slapped by Facebook with multiple bans and punishments. One of the most recent was a ban for being “insensitive.”
ISLAM EXPOSED (THE TRUTH ABOUT MILITANT ISLAM)
In June 2014, another page, Islam Exposed (The Truth about Militant Islam), was unpublished after Facebook claimed the page included pornographic content. Again, this author was given
administrative rights to see the page and verify that it contained no such content.
Page administrators sent a letter to Facebook that contained screen shots of the page to prove that no such content existed. Page owners went on to say that “there is not one post that even closely resembles pornography to support the serious yet bogus, defamatory, and libelous charge made about it in the report, which resulted in Facebook’s inexplicable decision to revoke our page.”
Page owners, the letter added, even paid for advertising with the goal of increasing the page’s reach. Instead of increasing viewers, they said, the page actually lost supporters. “The fact that our numbers have continued to drop rather than rise, despite our recently placed ad, suggests internal issues that, at the very least, surmount to misrepresentation and false advertising of services on the part of Facebook,” the letter said.
Just prior to this, Facebook yanked the page but restored it, claiming that it was the result of a mistake. At that time, page administrators received death threats from critics but those threats were dismissed by Facebook. Instead of dealing with the threats leveled at administrators, Facebook chose to tear the page down, citing “harassment.” In short, Facebook punished the victims for being threatened.
“A single bullet will strike ur (sic) head one day [admin] from a
jihadist. Insha-Allah,” one threat read. Another user with a Muslim-sounding
name threatened to cut off administrators’ heads if they continued to post articles in a rant too profane to quote here. Yet another person threatened to blackmail one of the administrators.
One administrator even received threatening phone calls. Those calls, he said, were reported to police, but nothing was done. Some of the threats were serious enough to report to authorities in the United States and Israel.
Facebook, however, continued to ignore the threats, page owners said. Worse yet, the site began targeting the page with what administrators called “harassment and censorship.”
One post banned by Facebook asked users to refrain from posting anti-Muslim or hateful comments. This, Facebook decided, violated their murky community standards.
“This is not a Muslim hate page, as stated in our mission here. We hate the ideology of Islam and the brutality it perpetrates and condones,” the post said. Visitors were also told to not use derogatory or threatening language. Page owners made it clear that such language does not help their mission to educate visitors. Nevertheless, Facebook said the post violated their standards and the administrator who posted it received a thirty-day ban.
The page still exists, but now sits in a form of Facebook “purgatory,” accessible only to administrators and another has been created to take its place.
Pushing the envelope of censorship even further, Facebook went after a page belonging to Britain First, a right-of-center British political party that is unapologetically patriotic and highly critical of what many now call an invasion of migrants from Middle-Eastern countries.
In December 2015, Facebook yanked the page with no explanation, prompting the party to label Facebook “fascist” and threaten lawsuits. At the time, the UK Independent quoted page
owners who said that pulling the page “means that our 1.1 million supporters have been denied freedom of speech and expression.” Moreover, the Party said it would establish “an immediate legal fund to drag Facebook into court.”
Facebook backed down after the uproar and restored the page. According to reports, the political party was in talks with Facebook to determine why the page was pulled in the first place and Facebook claimed it was investigating the action.
WE DO NOT WANT ISLAM IN THE CZECH REPUBLIC
In early January, the Prague Monitor reported that Facebook pulled the page for what some say is the Czech Republic’s most-supported non-governmental group, or NGO. According to the report, the group had been accused of extremism and xenophobia, the Orwellian accusations often hurled at those who oppose militant Islamic jihad. Page owners rejected the accusations, and said they reject Islam and support free speech, the report said. The page was blocked by Facebook last June, but owners said they were able to convince the social media company that opposition to Islamic ideology is not the same as fomenting hatred for individual Muslims.
The latest ban, however, may be more serious, said administrator and group chairman Dr. Martin Konvicka, a South Bohemian entomologist. “All of us know about the calls by many European politicians, including German Chancellor (Angela) Merkel and Czech Interior Minister (Milan) Chovanec (Social Democrats, CSSD), for censorship of social networks,” he said.
Others also say the page was pulled as the result of false reports made by critics. A new page has been set up to replace the old one, but if the experience of others has indicated, it’s only a matter of time before that one is also yanked.
ISRAEL’S INTELLECTUAL WARRIORS
Israel’s Intellectual Warriors was a group started by Dr. Martin Sherman, a highly respected columnist with the Jerusalem Post whose work is widely regarded by Israeli decision-makers, Israel-friendly foreign policy circles and the Israeli public.
He served for seven years in operational capacities in the Israeli Defense establishment and was a ministerial adviser in a previous Israeli administration. Additionally, he is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies. His group quickly reached about 4,000 members and was growing rapidly when it came under attack. “Late one night,” he said, “the group was subjected to a massive attack by Arab/Muslims forces who had infiltrated the group. They posted highly distasteful images of hardcore porn and appalling horror scenes of dismembered bodies.”
Dr. Sherman said he immediately began removing the offensive material when he spotted it the next day, but was already too late. Facebook, he added, “perversely and irrationally, removed the group, thus punishing the victim and not the perpetrators!! Numerous and
repeated appeals, both from myself and many outraged members, to reverse the scandalous and senseless decision received no response and were utterly ignored, disregarded.” This, unfortunately, is an old story that has been repeated over and over again.
ARAB ATHEIST NETWORK, ET.AL
In February 2016, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain posted a petition in which it said that some nineteen separate Facebook groups and pages were either torn down or currently under attack in the same way that Dr. Sherman’s group was.
The group said in its petition that it consists of former Muslims and free-thinkers who left Islam after researching it further, but cannot publicize their decision as they still live in the Middle East and would be subjected to beheading by religious extremists or harsh
treatment under religious laws in their home country. The only outlet they have for interaction is social media sites like Facebook.
But, they added, Muslim fundamentalists and extremists didn’t leave them alone, and created groups with thousands of followers who regularly reported their accounts and groups in an effort to close them. Facebook, they said, believed the false reports and closed down a number of the pages without any warning. Ten of their largest groups were shut down, they said in an appeal to Westerners who still value freedom of expression. The group even went so far as to suggest that Facebook may be in violation of international law, specifically, the International Covenant on Civil Rights and Political Rights, the Preamble of which says that, “the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights . . . ”
Article One of that document states: “All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.” Article eighteen further says that, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in
worship, observance, practice and teaching.”
Nowhere does the document say that those rights are subject to enforcement under Facebook’s community standards.
The very next article adds: “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.” “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice,” which obviously would include the Internet and sites like Facebook.
That document was first adopted by the General Assembly in 1966, and went into force in 1976, many years before Facebook was created. Apparently, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t get the memo.
In 2013, the website American Thinker reported that Facebook cracked down on no less than forty counter-jihad and patriot pages over a two-week period of time. The primary reason for the actions, Paul Murphy said at the time, was false claims of sexual content – a
very common accusation leveled at conservative critics of jihad. “And because Facebook is free it simply won’t have the manpower to check all reports. Thus it will ban indiscriminately — on reports alone. Either that, or the Muslims and Leftists who work for Facebook are taking matters into their own hands by imposing Sharia Blasphemy Law on Facebook without its owners, or those at the top level, knowing this,” Murphy wrote.
Compare that to the treatment meted out to pages supportive of militant jihad.
We already discussed the experiment conducted by Shurat HaDin that documented Facebook’s bias on video. Facebook ultimately pulled the anti-Israel page, but only after the video was seen by over a million users. This is an old story.
At about the same time as Murphy’s report, a Facebook page promoting the beheading of infidels was flourishing. Worse yet, despite its blatantly violent content, Facebook refused to pull the page, telling those who filed reports that it did not violate their
“When we Muslims take over America, you infidels will show respect or die,” one person wrote on the page. At the time, then-Facebook spokesman Fred Wolens said in an email that there are different standards around images versus text. Oddly enough, that standard doesn’t seem to apply to pages or individuals critical of Islam.
“Under our terms, this Page does not credibly threaten a specific person or target a protected category,” he added, which might make one wonder whether or not average users who oppose militant jihad are considered deserving of protection. Robert Spencer disagreed
with Facebook’s assessment, calling it a page that promotes “real hatred and incitement to violence.”
“It is not ‘hate’ when it’s a Facebook page. It only becomes ‘hate’ when I report about it,” he wrote at the time.
Facebook ultimately pulled the page, but not before the chilling double standard was revealed.
This is hardly an isolated incident, as Walid Shoebat, Spencer and others have reported.
In December 2015, The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) reported that an Iranian Facebook account openly recruited Muslim youths in South Asia for jihad in Syria.
In 2013, Shoebat reported on the case of Chiheb Esseghaier, the man charged with conspiring to derail a VIA passenger train in Canada.
According to Shoebat, Esseghaier’s Facebook page displayed a “detailed flowchart on Al-Qaeda’s plans, command and control, and methodology – from leadership to cell creation.”
The page was deleted minutes later, he added, but not before it was captured for posterity. Facebook, it seems, got it right that time.
Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
In 2014, World Net Daily (WND) reported that attorney Larry Klayman asked the Supreme Court to review a case that accused Facebook of allowing the posting of death threats against Jews. According to the report, Klayman said Facebook and CEO Mark Zuckerberg “failed to prevent what he found to be objectionable statements, including ‘death threats against all Jews,’ on the Third Intifada Page, which has more than 300,000 followers.”
Facebook, he told WND, was asked to take the page down, but the company refused. “Only in the last few days did they do so, after increased pressure was exerted by the Israeli government. However, the damage had already been done and it is believed that this and
other pages will soon reappear on Facebook,” he added.
Indeed, as the lawsuit by Shurat HaDin indicates, those pages have returned and as usual, they get very little notice from Facebook until public pressure is applied. Individual users, as we will demonstrate next, can also find themselves on the wrong end of what can only be called Facebook’s double standard.
Of course, all this took place in 2016 and earlier. And there are many, many more instances illustrating Facebook’s double standards. But as we and many others have reported, the censorship has only gotten worse, and Facebook is still using many of the same tactics, including false and defamatory allegations of pornography and nudity.
Tomorrow, I will post another excerpt showing even more double standards by the social media site.
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