It’s become literally impossible to know what will or won’t pass muster with the censors at Facebook. More and more it appears that moderators at the social media giant take actions based on how they feel at the moment rather than whatever guidelines the company may issue.
On Thursday, I heard from Ram Lubranicki, a page administrator for “American Bikers United Against Jihad – ABUAJ,” who informed me that he was given a ban from Facebook over a post that the social media site had already told him did not violate their community standards.
Here’s the post in question:
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Ram told me he spotted this on the page of Magdi Khalil, an Egyptian-born human rights activist seen on Arabic media outlets like Al Jazeera and Al Ahram. He is director of the Middle East Freedom Forum, an Egyptian think-tank that campaigns for human rights, secularism, and democracy.
Khalil also added some text, in Arabic, which, when translated by Google, read:
Khalil, of course, was being sarcastic, trying to make the point that terrorists who kill in the name of Islam are following their religious teachings, contrary to the psychobabble handed to us by the likes of Barack Obama and Loretta Lynch.
Ram decided to test the waters and reported it to Facebook — not to get Khalil in trouble, but to see what the social media site had to say.
Here’s the response he got:
As you can see, Facebook cleared this post and said it didn’t violate their standards.
So Ram posted it in some of his groups and pages. Shortly thereafter, Facebook removed it from some groups and issued a ban, claiming the post violated their community standards.
How is it possible that the exact same post is okay on one page but not another? Could it be that moderators have problems with certain people but not others? Facebook continues to claim that politics has nothing to do with their decisions, but we can’t help but wonder after incidents like this.
The site also took issue with the logo Ram uses on his group page, which happens to be the logo of his organization:
What’s the problem with this? We’re certainly at a loss for words.
Ram told me it’s gotten to the point that he can’t even post a photo of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without getting banned. And of course, Facebook refuses to respond to his inquiries.
Incidents like this, by the way, are the reason Adina Kutnicki, an investigative journalist based in Israel, and I wrote “Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad.” The book has been endorsed by Pam Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative, and is set to be available this fall, perhaps as early as August.
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