Flashback: Facebook tells conservative user picture of lilac tree ‘pornographic’

Does Facebook have so much power it can throw an election? lilac treeOn Wednesday, we reported that Facebook told yours truly that a picture showing an eagle superimposed on a U.S. flag violates their “Community Standards,” and prompted a 30-day ban.  This is not the first time I have documented this kind of insanity from the site increasingly known as the “world’s most dangerous censor.”  Back in May 2015, I recounted the story of one conservative woman who was told that her profile picture of a lilac tree was considered pornographic.

On May 22, 2015, I wrote at the now-defunct Examiner.com:

On Thursday, a conservative Facebook user who wished to be identified only as “Carol” told Examiner.com that Facebook declared a picture of a lilac tree to be pornographic after a liberal “troll” complained. Additionally, she said Facebook also called a picture of her granddaughter opening Christmas presents pornographic after complaints from “trolls” who wished to silence her.

Those, she said, were just two of the “stupid” items Facebook took down because of false reports. A picture of Glenn Beck, a friend’s dog, and a picture of another friend fishing were also falsely deemed to be pornography after being reported.

This happened, she added, at about the same time Facebook blocked her for 30 days. It all happened, she said, because she accepted a friend request. She “unfriended” the person and was asked to enter a “Security” code. She was then slapped with a 30-day ban from using most of Facebook’s features.

This is just one of the many stories we have received from Facebook users in the last few days. While participating in an online “Q&A” with Fox News’ Megyn Kelly on Thursday, one user told Kelly that Facebook would not allow her to add new members to her group. Another person asked why Facebook is removing people based on false reports with no follow-up to see if the reports are real. Kelly did not respond.

In another incident, Facebook blocked the administrators of one page based on posts that were forged. The forgeries were reported to the FBI and Facebook was notified, but took no action to mitigate the punishments. An administrator of a pro-Sarah Palin page told Examiner that Facebook locks her out as many as 10 to 12 times per day. This, she added, started about three days ago.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has gone “ban-happy.” As we have reported in the past, users have been slapped for saying “thank you” and clicking “like,” even though a court ruled that doing so is Constitutionally-protected free speech.

While Facebook called Carol’s lilac tree “pornography,” it has said that a page calling for the murder of a Texas Tech cheerleader who hunts big game does not violate its standards. It also shut down James O’Keefe’s page for a time after he posted a voter fraud expose.

Facebook has claimed in the past that it supports free speech. The conservatives we have spoken to over the last several years, however, say otherwise.

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.”  That book, endorsed by Pam Geller, is available at Amazon.com and the WND Superstore.

As we explain in the book, the reason this abuse happens is because federal law allows it.  You read that right — Section 230 of the 20-year-old Communications Decency Act gives sites like Facebook the power to engage in this type of censorship with zero legal consequences, meaning the issue will never be truly fixed until Congress amends the law to protect free expression.

As a final note, my latest run-in with the social media site has motivated me to begin work on a second book which will be a compilation of social media horror stories we’ve documented over the years, including this account.  If you’ve experienced this type of abuse and would like your story considered, please contact us here.  Rest assured, we respect your privacy and will keep your information confidential.


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And if you’re as concerned about Facebook censorship as we are, go here and order this new book:

Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad
Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad – Source: Author (used with permission)

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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