Facebook Suspension Adds to Greene’s Covid Social Media Censure
(Bloomberg) -- Facebook suspended Republican U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene for 24 hours, the congresswoman said Monday, after she posted misleading data about deaths related to the Covid-19 vaccine.
The suspension follows Twitter Inc.’s decision on Sunday to permanently ban Greene for repeated violations of the platform’s policy against medical misinformation. Greene on Monday took to messaging service Telegram to describe Facebook and Twitter’s actions as “beyond censorship of speech.”
“Who appointed Twitter and Facebook to be the authorities of information and misinformation?” Greene said on Telegram. “When Big Tech decides what political speech of elected Members is accepted and what’s not then they are working against our government and against the interest of our people.”
Greene’s conflict with the social media giants illustrates how difficult it is for technology platforms to moderate content that walks the line between fact and opinion, and in some cases cites legitimate sources of information in misleading ways. The post in question included a graph she attributed to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a government-run system that collects self-reported raw data not intended to evaluate vaccine safety concerns in isolation.
A spokesperson for Meta Platforms Inc., the new corporate name for Facebook, said the company removed the post that violated its rules, but banning the account “for this violation is beyond the scope of our policies.”
The actions by Twitter and Facebook mirror the consequences for Donald Trump’s posts that the social networks said led to real-world violence, including the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. Twitter permanently banned the former president, while Facebook suspended his account for two years.
Republicans have long complained that major technology companies censor conservative speech -- an argument that has become a potent campaign and fundraising theme. Senator Rand Paul, a Kentucky Republican, on Monday said he planned to quit using Google’s YouTube because “they’re the worst censors.”
“Just because private censorship of speech is allowable under the law, that doesn’t make that censorship any less despicable or illiberal,” Paul wrote in a Washington Examiner opinion piece. “Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram are the new town square, and opposing viewpoints are being silenced by the BigTech gatekeepers.”
Greene has drawn censure beyond the internet platforms for her controversial opinions. The Democratic-led House last February voted to strip her of two committee assignments for past statements suggesting support for conspiracy theories and violence against Democrats.
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