Recently, Facebook announced that they had received an assessment from former GOP Senator Jon Kyl outlining the concerns of some conservative groups about bias and censorship on the platform. on August 20, 2019, Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communications for Facebook posted a response to the report in their newsroom saying:
"We know we need to take these concerns seriously and adjust course if our policies are in fact limiting expression in an unintended way. The report highlights the changes Facebook has already made to address some of them. These include making our decisions more transparent by providing more information on why people are seeing specific posts on News Feed; ensuring Page managers can see when enforcement action takes place; launching an appeals process; and creating a new Oversight Board for content, made up of people with a diverse range of ideological views. It also recognizes changes we made earlier this year to our advertising policies around the labelling of ads about social issues, elections or politics, and to our policy on banning images of patients with medical tubes, which has been applied unevenly in the past."
Facebook's intention to take these concerns seriously was short-lived. While they are sharing their decisions it is clear they can not see their own bias on a significant issue in the public debate.
On August 30, 2019, Pro-life activist Lila Rose alerted her followers that her organization Live Action's posts would be subject to reduced distribution. They also notified some of her page's 3 million followers that the organization had shared "false news' following a fact check. The information marked “false” by Facebook was two videos affirming that “abortion is never medically necessary.” One video featured neonatologist Dr. Kendra Kolb and the other a recent speech by the Rose on the same topic.
On September 11, the "false news" flags were removed by Facebook. Rose asserted asserted that this was a dispute within the medical community and the two physicians that fact checked the posts were pro-choice activists. One of her own videos featured a physician that opposes their view. Four Republican Senators had also written the company to object to Live Action's information being fact checked by physicians who work with activist organizations with opposing views.
Later that day, Live Action tweeted the following:
BREAKING: Following this morning's letter from various US Senators demanding @Facebook rectify this situation, @facebook has just sent ANOTHER push notification our followers claiming that we are spreading "false news"— Live Action (@LiveAction) September 11, 2019
This is truly unacceptable. pic.twitter.com/Qr3auabaaJ
Rose updated her followers in a follow up:
UPDATE: @facebook has removed our page violations, saying we may be penalized again after an “investigation”— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) September 12, 2019
No apology or update sent to the 1000s of our followers they had contacted
The abortionists’ “fact-check,” lying about our videos, remains on Facebook’s partner website
At CloutHub®, we think it is unconscionable that a social media platform weigh in or censor information that is in dispute within the medical community. Further, it is not the job of a platform where ideas and information is exchanged to put their finger on the scale to manipulate public opinion on any social, cultural or political issue. Our users are customers who engage to find information about a range of issues. We believe they deserve to be exposed to a range of ideas, information and opinions so they may draw their own conclusions.
Every feature we build is based on Privacy, Civility, Freedom and Choice. This includes the freedom of users to make up their own minds abut the ideas and information they encounter. We will never manage our platform to highlight one side of any issue in the public square. This type of behavior only serves to enhance the unfortunate divisions that are becoming more prominent in our communities.