Joe Newby is a journalist for Examiner.com and various other publications,including his personal blog, Conservative Firing Line. He wrote an article for Examiner on Wednesday…and Facebook blocked the link to the article, claiming it was “malicious.” The article alleged that Facebook was “working closely” with a group called the Muslim Advocates to shut down the accounts of persons or groups critical of Islam. Mr. Newby has not been able to share his article on Facebook, and repeated attempts to obtain a response from Facebook have gone unanswered.
Shut down of free speech?
1. On Wednesday, Mr. Newby prepared an article from information he received from Dave Gaubatz, author of “Muslim Mafia,” an anti-terrorism expert and former federal agent, regarding the group Muslim Advocates. The article alleged that Mr. Gaubatz had spoken to members of the Islamic group and learned that they were “working closely” with social media such as Twitter and Facebook to shut down accounts of those who are critical of Islam. Read Newby’s original article here.
2. Mr. Newby reached out to the Muslim Advocates twice and Facebook once to verify or deny the allegations. No one responded, so he published the article. He asked the Muslim group three questions:
a. Do you confirm or deny the quote attributed to Gaubatz?
b. Is your group working with Facebook and Twitter to close down accounts of people critical of Islam as he says?
c: Do you think people who are critical of Islam should have their social media accounts closed?
3. Suddenly, after he sent emails to both parties, his article was falsely blocked as “malicious.”
Mr. Newby attempted to get around the block by using a shortened link through his account at buffer.com. That didn’t work either.
Did the Muslim Advocates organization contact Facebook to have that article blocked? As of the writing of this article, Facebook has not responded to Mr. Newby other than by two auto-replies. He sent emails to 4 separate email addresses for Facebook.
He did, however, receive a response from the Muslim Advocates, before his article was blocked.
Fatima Khan, spokesperson for the Islamic group, sent him a response that not only did not answer any of the questions he posed to them about Mr. Gaubatz’ accusations, but contained what Newby described as a standard attempt to “intimidate.”
First Amendment Issues
Facebook is well known for the selective enforcement of its own “community standards.” Newby has been reporting on Facebook’s hypocritical violations of its own community standards for 2 1/2 years. With particular regard to Islam, the media giant seems to favor the egregious rhetoric of Islamic groups.
The page “Islam Exposed” was taken down by Facebook, and their main administrator banned for 30 days for alleged community standards violations on Wednesday, the same day as Newby’s incident. Prior to being taken down, the administrators of that page received death threats from Islamic extremists. The fact that the post asked readers NOT to engage in “hate speech” and to abide by Facebook standards, appeared to be ignored by moderators. The page was ultimately restored, but not the post. That article is here. Once again, Mr. Newby’s attempts to obtain a response from Facebook for denial or confirmation of the situation went unanswered.
“The biggest problem is the way they ‘enforce’ their own policies. I want them to explain to Congress why some of this stuff violates their community standards. Their blocks and bans are arbitrary and capricious.”
Newby advised that another page critical of Islam was yanked by Facebook for false claims of “pornography.”
Mr. Newby has written 4,600 articles for the Examiner. Out of the thousands of articles and thousands writers who work for Examiner, the idea that one article is suddenly “malicious” is out of the realm of reality. The accusation of Facebook “working with” Islamic groups such as Muslim Advocates is unknown at this point, but the facts and “coincidences” of this situation seem suspicious.
“Nobody has problems with ‘rules.’ But even suspects in criminal trials have more rights than people on Facebook. They get to see the evidence against them, they get to confront their accusers, they are presumed innocent until proven guilty. But on Facebook, everyone is presumed guilty. It’s flat UnAmerican.
They can do anything they want. We need to have congressional action on this company. They are censoring free speech in a manner that is abusive. It is a publicly traded company. Barring a Congressional action, we need the ‘mother of all class action lawsuits’ against Facebook. This has gone on too long. It’s time.
To the Islamic groups- in America you have the right to speak out, the right to worship as you please, but you do not have the right to silence everyone else.” Joe Newby