Book excerpt: A look back at Facebook’s abuse of its conservative, anti-terror users

Yesterday, we posted chapter four of “Banned: How Facebook Enables Militant Islamic Jihad,” a book written in 2016 by myself and American-Israeli Adina Kutnicki, in which we did a compare and contrast of Facebook’s treatment of pages and groups opposed to militant Islamic jihad versus pages and groups supportive of jihad.

Today, we present for your consideration another chapter from that book, in which we compared and contrasted the way Facebook treats users opposed to jihad versus those who support it.

In 2012, a Facebook user who wished to be identified only as Marie, logged into Facebook and was presented with a number of graphic death threats and threats of rape from individuals with Middle Eastern-sounding names. “We will kill you,” one message
read. Marie, naturally, was more than just a little concerned.

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Being a responsible Facebook user, she reported the threats to Facebook. The response she got was jaw-dropping, to say the least. The social media giant sent her a private email saying the company could not confirm the threats violated their community standards.

“We want people to feel safe when using Facebook,” the company says on its Community Standards page. The site also states that “something that may be disagreeable or disturbing to you may not violate our Community Standards.” Does that extend to threats
of death and rape?

Regarding threats of violence, the site adds:

“We carefully review reports of threatening language to identify serious threats of harm to public and personal safety. We remove credible threats of physical harm to individuals. We also remove specific threats of theft, vandalism, or other financial harm.”

Marie would tend to disagree. Making matters worse, she said the posts remained live for months afterward.

Make no mistake; Marie is not alone.

One co-author of this book experienced something quite similar, starting in mid-2014 and continuing well into 2015. A slew of private messages entered her Facebook inbox during that time, causing her a great deal of concern. One after another, the threats poured in and centered around one central theme: Stop all writings and interviews about Islam! If not, we will deal with you. We are coming after you! Israel and America will be destroyed!

At the same time, those posting the threats upped the ante and circulated her profile picture on Facebook. It made the rounds elsewhere, but it has yet to be definitively determined just how far and wide it was circulated. Worse yet, they cropped a crosshair (See Appendix A, Exhibit 11) into it, in an effort to punctuate their menacing intent. At the same time, they used this defaced photo as a calling card of sorts, and created a short video clip with an attached virus. Not only that, they sent it to countless pro-American and pro-Israel aligned contacts found on her Facebook page.

Not satisfied with their campaign of harassment and threats, one friend request after another kept popping up. There were so many requests that it was impossible to keep count. A decision was made to analyze the first dozen or so pages. Each one was part of the same Iranian government assemblage, so much so that they listed the Revolutionary Guards as their work place. As expected, their writings were (mostly) in Persian, therefore, Google translate had to suffice.

Three top-notch counterterrorism specialists independently analyzed samples of the threats and agreed they were real and not the work of pranksters. Working independently of each other, all three traced and verified the offending accounts. A few of the accounts, they found, were based in Saudi Arabia. The threats stopped once contact was made with enough of these militant jihadists, but the friend requests kept coming! Alas, one may rightfully inquire: Why not just turn off all requests from certain regions? The flipside became: How can we track this one and that one, and know with whom we are dealing, if those individuals are blocked? Basically, Sun Tzu’s, “keep your friends close, and your enemies closer” was chosen
as the wisest course of action. As is so often the case, Facebook took no action and did not even bother responding even after she filled out all the required forms. Sadly, this is a story that has been repeated over and over again.

Consider Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI) and Stop Islamization of America (SIOA). Geller said she has been threatened so many times by Islamists on Facebook that she no longer bothers reporting the incidents. The reason for that is simple: Facebook, despite its high-minded community standards, does absolutely nothing.

In one recent incident, a Muslim detractor posted what can only be seen as a threat on her Facebook page. According to this individual, there is no freedom to “insult” Islam, nor is there any right to draw Muhammad. But, he added, if there is a freedom to insult Islam, then there is freedom to kill those who do. The individual continued, warning Geller and others that everyone essentially must think as he does or be murdered.

We checked out this individual’s page and found he had no friends and had made no posts. The profile appears to have been one created for the sole purpose of issuing threats on Geller’s page. That is hardly the only threat Geller has received. According to an article
she published on Breitbart.com, calls to “rape and dice” her regularly appear on Facebook.

“I am sick and tired of the suppression of our speech,” she wrote.  “We are unable to engage in the public square. And yes, Facebook is the public square; it’s where we connect. We have to fight for it. Shouting into the wilderness is not freedom of speech.” Geller says that like so many others, she is repeatedly threatened, warned and punished for reporting about radical Islam, Sharia oppression and violent jihad.

Meanwhile, CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently assured Muslims that Facebook would be a safe and welcoming place for them. That is all well and good, but what about everyone else?

Facebook’s Orwellian treatment of counter-jihad supporters goes even further. One co-author of this book has written a number of articles regarding Facebook’s actions as well as stories covering terrorism and the actions of those who support Sharia law and militant jihad.

Starting in May 2015, the site began to punish him by attributing comments and links he never posted. From May to December 2015, he was slapped with no less than six separate bans, all over posts he never made. Worse yet, the posts were formatted in such a way as to appear that he made them when he didn’t. Adding insult to injury, the bans were perfectly timed to coincide within days, or even hours, of the previous ban.

Several others said they were banned for the exact same posts – each one also made to appear as though they posted them. After blogger Faye Higbee wrote about the phenomenon, even more came forward to say they, too, had been similarly banned. One counterjihadist called the incident Forgegate and said he had been banned for the exact same post Facebook used against the co-author.

In 2013, Examiner.com’s Christopher Collins, citing various reports from multiple sites, said an Islamic group posted a $500,000 bounty against an administrator of a counter-jihad Facebook page. The page, “Ban Islam,” had been removed by Facebook thanks in part to a deluge of complaints from a group known as Islamic Socialist Network, he reported. “It appears that the Islamic Socialist Network has created a ‘Hit List’ of Counter jihad web pages to attack,” said Schuyler Montague. “And, if this wasn’t bad enough, we discovered this hit list also extends to the administrators of these web pages, as well.”

Thanks to the hard work of Montague and others, many of the pages involved were finally removed, but one has to ask: How many more like it are out there? And how many other counter-jihadists have suffered Facebook’s Orwellian actions and simply suffered in

Shortly after that article was published, Collins said Facebook slapped him with a ban.

A series of posts dating back to 2014 and later made public by the Bare Naked Islam blog gives the reader a sense of the type of thing Facebook is willing to tolerate from militant Islamists. “[D]ie ukuffar bastard (sic),” one Facebook message read. The user threatened
an owner of “Our Eye on Islam” with rape and death if the page continued displaying anti-jihad posts. Ironically, the user said Islam means “peace and tolerance among other people.”

“Is it so hard to say Islam means peace,” the offended Muslim asked. When presented with the hypocrisy of his own words, he let the cat out of the bag by telling the administrator, “you won’t be raped or killed” as long as “you don’t insult Islam.”

But the poster was far from being finished. He went on to say that Islam “wouldn’t exist today” without murder and rape. Sometimes, he wrote, “it’s necessary to kill the kuffar and rape their women,” which he said is the only way to please Allah. Imagine, just for a
moment, the outrage that would ensue if those words were written by anyone else. The man later whined when others began circulating his offensive screeds and demanded they be deleted.

In December 2015, a manager for the popular “Restless Patriots” Facebook page said she was given a thirty-day ban after posting a picture of San Bernardino shooter Tashfeen Malik. The picture also presented a simple question: “Presidential candidate Donald Trump is calling for ‘a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on. Do you agree?’”

Facebook’s moderators took offense and tore the picture down while banning the page owner. Ironically, Malik pledged allegiance to ISIS on Facebook shortly before being killed in the terrorist attack. Facebook, it seems, had no problem with that.

Another Examiner.com contributor, Renee Nal, noted:

In a recent interview with Sean Hannity, Jennifer Thalasinos, the widow of a victim of last week’s terror attack in San Bernardino Nicholas Thalasinos, commented that her husband –
a conservative that she believes was targeted for his views by the Muslim shooters – was previously targeted on Facebook, resulting in him being blocked for extended periods of time . . .James Neighbors, the founder of the popular “Overpasses for America” Facebook page told the Examiner that he has been placed in the “Facebook Gulag” “4 or 5 times in 2015 alone . . .” Neighbors said that he “spent essentially 4 of the last 6 months locked down
for the most frivolous of offenses.”

The same month, gun rights activist and writer Jan Morgan was slapped with a thirty-day ban after writing a post Fox Business said was critical of letting Sharia-compliant Muslims into the United States. According to Facebook, Morgan was guilty of repeatedly posting things that violate their community standards. Morgan then used her husband’s account to let fans know what happened and to inform them she would be discussing the issue on Fox Business. That post was also removed by Facebook. Facebook relented, saying it was all a mistake, but the ban was not lifted until the company was told of her network appearance. Morgan responded, telling Facebook she hears of this kind of treatment from conservatives across the country.

In January 2016, another female Facebook user was the target of extremely graphic and profane threats from an individual with a Middle Eastern-sounding name. “I will feast on the blood of your family,” the individual said in one of the very few statements fit to print. The perpetrator also posted threats to kill and behead members of the woman’s family.

The woman filed a complaint with Facebook and was promptly told the violent threats did not violate their community standards.  “Please let us know if you see anything else that concerns you,” Facebook said. “We want to keep Facebook safe and welcoming for

Everyone, apparently, except those who oppose violent Islamic jihad. One would think the FBI might be interested in looking into these threats, but it seems they’re far too busy these days investigating bacon on the door handles of mosques.

Later that same month, Facebook banned blogger and activist Christopher Cantwell for a post supporting victims of migrant rape. According to Cantwell, the post decried the victims of a New Year’s Eve rapefest in Germany. Cantwell observed that he had never
made the post, yet it was formatted to appear as though he had.

“I am not sure why Facebook opted to show it to me in this context,” he wrote. “All admins of the [We Like Gun Rights] page received the same notice, but with their own name and profile picture being shown as the poster.” The page was also unpublished for a time, he added, but was later restored. Cantwell issued a dire warning. “This is a troubling trend that seems to get worse by the day. The Internet had once provided us with a means of breaking from mainstream media narratives and giving each individual a voice,” he said. “But, as political correctness and government (policies) bring pressure to bear on popular online gathering places, that is ceasing to be the case. Expressing political opinions that run contrary to PC narratives or government policy will now get you silence on the most popular platforms and as internet regulations steadily increase we can expect this to also come at the ISP level.”

Adding to the list of the banned and damned is Michael Savage. In late 2015, WND reported that talk-radio host Michael Savage was banned after he dared to post photographs of the February 3, 2006, demonstration held outside the Embassy of Denmark in London.

According to the report, the focus of protest was the publication of cartoons depicting Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Snopes.com verified the photographs were taken at the London demonstration, with one exception which was taken at a
protest in the English city of Luton. Shortly afterward, Facebook removed his post, claiming the social media site “determined that it violated Facebook community standards.”

Is there a double standard? Facebook executives and spokespeople repeatedly and routinely say they support freedom of expression and give each reported case equal treatment. But as the old saw goes, actions speak louder than words.

Yes, actions do speak louder than words, and as we and many others have reported, Facebook’s actions have only become more Orwellian and more brazen.

As we noted in the previous excerpt we posted, all this took place in 2016 and earlier.  And there are many, many more instances illustrating Facebook’s double standards.  Facebook, as reports show, is still using many of the same tactics, including false and defamatory allegations of pornography and nudity.

The Trump administration has recently put up a site where victims of social media censorship can tell their stories.  You can see that site here.

Exit question:  Will our elected representatives EVER take any real, meaningful action to stop this abuse or will they wait until Mark Zuckerberg bans the Constitution as violating rules on nudity and hate speech?

Meanwhile, we strongly suggest you go here and order your own copy of the book:

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Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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