Image: National Observer
By Dallas Hansen
A few days ago, I went to post a picture on my brother’s Facebook Timeline when I was met with a strange and heretofore unseen message.
“You can’t post right now. You may have used Facebook in a way that our systems consider unusual, even if you didn’t mean to. You can post again in 30 days.”
No dreaded “session expired” beforehand, no indication of having posted anything violating their arbitrary “community standards;” just a month-long ban without any recourse for appeal. Upon review of my activity log, I could only find two items that may have precipitated such drastic action from Menlo Park’s increasingly aggressive censors.
In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, I had copy-pasted a reply to seven, perhaps eight commenters on NPR’s coverage of the tragedy.
“I just came here to read the comments blaming Trump. Thanks for not disappointing me.”
The other was a joke I had made about wearing a Proud Boys costume for Halloween.
Four days later, I’m reading that the Proud Boys’ flamboyant founder, Gavin McInnes had been deplatformed not only from Facebook but also Instagram—despite his decidedly non-political content upon the latter—while Proud Boys pages and member profiles had been similarly memory-holed.
Facebook’s drastic action comes on the heels of a high-profile October 12 skirmish outside the Metropolitan Republican Club in Manhattan, where Brooklyn resident McInnes had earlier given a speech while AntiFa protesters outside spray-painted Circle-As on the 98-year-old wooden doors after breaking several windows with projectiles.
As the Proud Boys left the venue on foot, NYPD at first did a commendable job of holding off the frothing AntiFa busybodies, but a few managed to ambush a straggler with an attempted robbery of a backpack and a Make America Great Again ball cap. As might be the expected result of physically attacking a group of men on an NYC sidewalk at night, the Proud Boys responded with a minor beatdown of the offenders before police broke it up, arresting three of the initiators.
The media response, however, typified the new era of Fake News. The Proud Boys were reported to be a “White Supremacist” organization, despite their multi-ethnic membership, and were blamed for their acts of self-defense in a fight which they did not start and in which they were ambushed from behind.
Never mind that NYC’s Meatpacking District sees a rowdier level of fisticuffs after closing time on any given weekend night, the major media amplified demands for the Proud Boys’ arrest, and cyber vigilantes moved to identify and doxx attendees, harassing their employers.
Big Tech’s latest move to deplatform not only Proud Boys as an organization but even its individual members sets an entirely new and chilling precedent. While Alex Jones and his Infowars-related accounts were similarly deplatformed earlier this year, this latest action against McInnes and Proud Boys worldwide—the overwhelming majority of which had no part in the Manhattan melée—would be tantamount to banning Millie Weaver, Paul Joseph Watson and anyone else who publishes content on Jones’s websites.
At this point, I don’t see much point in complaining. After 13 years and thousands of photos uploaded, I refuse to contribute any more to a company whose censorship practices are so at odds with my own values. It’s reached a point where the disadvantages of Facebook are outweighing the advantages and I can no longer enjoy a platform that’s becoming increasingly activist. Therefore, I encourage all who feel similarly as I do to migrate to a friendlier platform such as Minds.