“We’ve designated the shooting in Kenosha a mass murder and are removing posts in support of the shooter,” Facebook announced barely a week after the event, as it began a truly epic campaign of censorship blatantly at odds with its professed support for free speech.
Just for starters: Killing two people is mass murder now? Sure looks like the social-media giant’s staff just reached for the nearest excuse to suppress posts that conflicted with their personal prejudices — and no higher-up bothered to correct the call.
The blackout went far and wide: Facebook actively policed its users for pro-Kyle Rittenhouse posts and removed the content. It even targeted posts from legal scholars arguing the merits of his self-defense case.
And it made it hard to see even the stuff it didn’t get killed outright. “One of the big things that they did was manipulate the search engine so you couldn’t even find any references to Kyle Rittenhouse,” Dan Gainor, vice president of the Media Research Center, told The Post. “They’re out of touch with normal people.”
More broadly, the company explained its blackout thusly: “We don’t allow symbols, praise or support of dangerous individuals or organizations on Facebook. We define dangerous as things like: terrorist activity, organized hate or violence, mass or serial murder, human trafficking, criminal or harmful activity.”
In other words, it found Rittenhouse guilty of crossing some of those lines months before he got his day in court (where he won vindication) — and did its best to ensure he’d be found guilty in the court of public opinion by throwing out nearly all defense arguments and evidence.
We also strongly doubt Facebook applies its supposed ban on support for “dangerous individuals or organizations,” “organized hate” or “criminal or harmful activity” with any consistency. Too many of those terms are far too fuzzy: Legitimate protest, for example, can be technically criminal, and accusations of “organized hate” are all too common.
A truly neutral standard here is the one that GoFundMe applied: It pulled down every defense fund for Rittenhouse, saying its terms of service “prohibit raising money for the legal defense of an alleged violent crime.” As long as it does so for all such funds, that’s not biased.
But Facebook’s staff just couldn’t resist choosing a side. As one employee put it in internal discussions obtained by The Post: “Employees are drunk on the absolute power of being in control of civics in America, without ever having to visit a voting booth (if voting is even an option).”
Social media now qualify for various legal protections by claiming to be “neutral platforms.” Yet Big Tech is developing a strong record of suppressing the truth in the service of clear political bias. Something has to change.