James Bovard: “How Facebook Censored Me”

Submitted by James Bovard via USAToday.com,

Facebook said my post's image of a violent FBI raid 'incorrectly triggered our automation tools'... But it wasn't the first time an iconic image vanished...

Responding to Russian-funded political advertisements, Facebook chairman Mark Zuckerberg declared last month that “we will do our part to defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation.” But Facebook is effectively sowing disinformation by kowtowing to foreign regimes and censoring atrocities such as ethnic cleansing in Myanmar. In the name of repressing fake news and hate speech, Facebook is probably suppressing far more information than Americans realize.

Facebook blocked a post of mine last month for the first time since I joined it nine years ago. I was seeking to repost a blog article I had written on Janet Reno, the controversial former attorney general who died last year. I initially thought that Facebook was having technical glitches (no novelty). But I checked the page and saw the official verdict: “Could not scrape URL because it has been blocked.”

“Pshaw!” I said, or some other one-syllable epithet.

I copied the full text of the article into a new blog post. Instead of using “Janet Reno, Tyrant or Saint?” as the core headline, I titled it: “Janet Reno, American Saint.” Instead of a 1993 photo of the burning Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, I substituted an irreproachable official portrait  of Reno. Bingo - Facebook instantly accepted that crosspost. I then added a preface detailing the previous blockage and explaining why I sainted Reno. The ironic headline attracted far more attention and spurred a torrent of reposts by think tanks and other websites.

I contacted Facebook’s press office to learn why the initial post was blocked. Facebook spokeswoman Ruchika Budhraja checked into the matter and notified me that I would be permitted to post that link. "But why was it blocked?" I replied. She responded: “There was an image in the post that incorrectly triggered our automation tools. That issue has been corrected.”

So when did showing the home of more than 70 people engulfed in flames after a FBI assault become beyond the pale? Facebook presumably blocked everyone who sought to share that image from the most vivid law enforcement debacle of the 1990s.

This was not the first time Facebook erased an iconic image that the U.S. government would be happy to see vanish. Facebook likely deleted thousands of postings of the 1972 photo of a young Vietnamese girl running naked after a U.S. plane dropped napalm on her village.  After coming under severe criticism last year, Facebook announced that it would no longer suppress that image. Unfortunately, Facebook is unlikely to disclose a list of the images it bans. Because most Americans are clueless about current events and recent history, they will have little idea of what vanishes into the Memory Hole.

Zuckerberg also promised last month to continue working “to ensure our community is a platform for all ideas and force for good in democracy.” But the Facebook vision of democracy does not include freedom of information. Facebook instructs its employees that “we will not censor content unless a nation has demonstrated the political will to enforce its censorship laws.” But in such cases, Facebook happily teams up with heavy-handed politicians to crush dissent and suppress heretical notions.

In Turkey, IndiaPakistan and Morocco, Facebook routinely suppresses comments from regime opponents. Facebook cooperates closely with the Israeli government and “Palestinian groups are blocked so often that they have their own hashtag, #FbCensorsPalestine.”

In June, German police raided dozens of homes across the nation suspected of offensive social media postings and “conducted home searches and interrogations,” according to the New York TimesFacebook is deleting 15,000 posts a month in Germany but the government is threatening a $50-million-plus fine unless Facebook suppresses far more comments. Judith Bergman of the Gatestone Institute commented on the German mandate: "When employees of social media companies are appointed as the state's private thought police ... free speech becomes nothing more than a fairy tale. Or is that perhaps the point?" Other European nations are jumping on the suppression bandwagon. British Prime Minister Theresa May last month called on Facebook to remove purportedly extremist content within two hours of a government demand. 

Facebook is massively deleting posts from the victims of the ongoing slaughter of ethnic minority Muslims (known as Rohingya) by Myanmar's military. Facebook spokeswoman Budhraja explained to The Daily Beast: “We work hard to strike the right balance between enabling expression while providing a safe and respectful experience.”  What is the “right balance” regarding a brutal campaign that is creating hundreds of thousands of refugees and spurring denunciations all over the world?

Facebook last May announced plans to hire an additional 3,000 content reviewers to scrutinize and delete offensive or improper postings or false information. But catch-all notions of "fake news" can abet government coverups. Condemnations of Congress’ 1964 Gulf of Tonkin Resolution were often considered “fake news” (or communist propaganda) until Americans learned how the Johnson administration deceived them into the Vietnam War. Allegations that the feds had any role in that Waco fire were labeled conspiratorial nonsense until 1999, when the Justice Department admitted that the FBI fired pyrotechnic devices into the ramshackle building before the conflagration. Assertions that foreign governments had any role in the 9/11 attacks were summarily condemned until recent disclosures about Saudi financing of the hijackers.

Unlike its role in many foreign nations, Facebook is not functioning as an official censor in the U.S. But the company’s nonchalance about engaging in the electronic equivalent of book burning abroad should spur wariness about its conduct here. 

There are far too many American politicians who would be happy to browbeat Facebook into silencing their critics.


Snípéir_Ag_Obair falconflight Sat, 10/28/2017 - 14:49 Permalink

Or that of Ashkenazistan



I'm very surprised joo didn't mention that.

And of course it ain't just fb but the entire judeocorporate media

"According to FOX news, throughout late 2000 and 2001, a total of 200 Israeli spies were arrested. (13) It was the largest spy ring to ever be uncovered in the history of the United States. The Washington Post also reported that some of these Israelis were arrested in connection with the 9-11 investigation. (14) US. Carl Cameron of FOX News Channel did a excellent four part, nationally televised, series of investigations into this blockbuster scandal. But FOX pulled the investigative series after Zionist groups complained to FOX executives. FOX even went so far as to remove the written transcripts of the series from its website! In it's place was posted a chilling, Orwellian message which reads: "This story no longer exists." (15) Fortunately for the sake of history, the FOX transcripts were copied onto to many other websites and all four parts are available for your review. (see footnotes.)

The FOX series and other mainstream news media sources revealed that many of these Israelis were army veterans with electronics and explosives expertise. Many of them failed lie detector tests. FBI agents told FOX that some of their past investigations were compromised because suspects had been tipped off by Israeli wiretapping specialists. It was discovered that Israeli companies such as Comverse and Amdocs have the capability to tap American telephones (great for blackmailing all those wife-cheating politicians!) FBI agents also told FOX they believed the Israelis had advance knowledge of the 9-11 attacks. (which certainly would explain why no Israelis died in the WTC) Still another US official informed FOX that some of the detained Israelis actually had links to 9-11, but he refused to describe the nature of those links. The FBI official told FOX's Carl Cameron:

"Evidence linking these Israelis to 9-11 is classified. I cannot tell you about the evidence that has been gathered. It is classified information." (16) (emphasis added)"


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Leads US President Trump to War with Iran - Constant catering and groveling to Israel, an insignificant global economic entity, has reduced US prestige and status...

In reply to by falconflight

wise_owl_says... Sat, 10/28/2017 - 13:56 Permalink

never joined FBI (Face Book - Internet) never will. all of you that have... se la vie, suckers. post to a bunch of blue pill swollowing social justice a-holes... no thanks. 

Endgame Napoleon Bunga Bunga Sat, 10/28/2017 - 17:10 Permalink

From what I have seen, FB is a place where mom-gang workers post baby pics, when in their cubicles instead of on another excused babyvacation.

It is a place where young people post pics of themselves and their friends in restaurants, bars and other social settings, with the women often calling attention to their latest outfit, pretending to be supermodels.

Men post pics of themselves with women, trying to make themselves appear to be casanova’s who attract a lot of women.

Businesses post pics of their wares.

The bots must be designed to really scour FB to dredge up censorship-worthy information, using the guidelines of various countries. The FB pages I have seen looked pretty ordinary and innocuous, although all of them think their FB pages are fascinating, much more fascinating than making one cold call after another.

In reply to by Bunga Bunga

koan Sat, 10/28/2017 - 14:04 Permalink

Couple of comments, the first is; stop using Facebook, that's how they got the power they have now, because of you fucks using them.

You're part of the problem if you continue to use Facebook.

Second is; Myanmar is doing the correct thing cleaning out the Muslims, the World should be following their example.
Don't try to hide behind the name "Rohingya", they are Muslim, and they cause problems.

I guess I have one more comment, what a whiny fucking article, I had to go up and check the authors name because it reeked of SJW and female, but no... it's apparently a cucked male.

serotonindumptruck koan Sat, 10/28/2017 - 14:27 Permalink

I had a FB profile for about 6 weeks back in 2011.Zuckerfuck clearly has no problem with people posting amusing emoticons and memes, or with people who like to post selfies or a jpeg image of their latest meal.If your posts are in any way political or contrary to the established narrative, then prepare yourself for the inevitable attack by the H-1B censorship nazis, who will do everything in their power to silence you.Shortly after the Japanese 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that caused three reactors at Fukushima to melt down, I was eagerly posting ZH articles in an attempt to raise awareness to my dozen or so "friends".Every single time that I attempted this, my posts would completely disappear after about 30 minutes.Then my account was somehow "hacked" and began sending viral executables to everybody on my "friends" list (approx. 15 people).Piss on facebook and piss on that dorky-looking zuckerberg twice.

In reply to by koan

Consuelo serotonindumptruck Sat, 10/28/2017 - 14:56 Permalink

  Facebook = Exhibit A of what has colloquially become known as a 'Psy-Op'.In this case, Writ LARGE... Carefully constructed based upon well-known (and highly sophisticated) mass-marketing psychology techniques to lure people in, 'addict them' and essentially make them feel comfortable enough to do a brain dump of their most personal information. 

In reply to by serotonindumptruck

Endgame Napoleon serotonindumptruck Sat, 10/28/2017 - 17:35 Permalink

Were your “friends” in Japan?

I have mixed feelings about this.

Part of me wants to impose the First Amendment on other countries, not the Trumpian populist part, nor the libertarian-lite part that thinks it’s the business of other countries to set their own standards.

The former shop owner part of me knows that you have to cater to your customers, no matter what you think of their ideas. If you have ever been in a custom design business—and FB is sort of a DIY website business—you often have to bend to the will of customers without interjecting your own aesthetics. Sometimes, they let you do it your way. It is 100% their call.

There are also a few limits to First Amendment freedoms, maybe because some speech intrudes on other constitutional rights.

Even in the US, these companies probably have a fleet of lawyers. They probably censor more than we realize.

I can’t imagine anyone censoring the bland-beyond-belief FB sites that I have seen. People put film footage of themselves playing ping pong, staring at it like it was the Olympics.

We all think whatever we do is so interesting.

Momma managers put videos of their daughters’ entire wedding ceremonies and call their employees into their cubicles to watch every minute of it.

And OMG....Emoticon....Emoticon....The working-momma cliques in the female (mom)-dominated offices post an enormity of baby and kid pics.

Even though I am making fun of them, it would be nice to be able to add colored text and symbols via HTML on ZH. Emoticons have their uses, not the smileys. But the Deep State Swamp needs an emoticon.

In reply to by serotonindumptruck

Sudden Debt Sat, 10/28/2017 - 14:04 Permalink

I don't think people use facebook to read up on the news... all it does is letting you know which idiot made lunch so he or she can post a picture on facebook while the kids have to eat spam from a can. How many young people have a blog with 1000 pictures of themselves?  Facebook and all the rest of "A social behavior media" is just a way for young kids to post narcistic crap while they tell the world how happy they are while they're borderline depressed. My kids asked me a S8 samsung phone because they want to film in higher quality... SURE!! But what kind of films? for social media?HELL NO! I won't pay a 1000 euro's for that crap!GET OUT AND PLAY OUTSIDE!And if a white van passes to kidnap you, tough luck. That's why you need to be a good runner so excersise more!And they can't come home before dark. I need quite in the house.And if they break something, call the ambulance first and me second.

MuffDiver69 Sat, 10/28/2017 - 14:18 Permalink

Look...Someone will come along and make their name on unfiltered News. I notice on stupid sites like Reddit that many on the left will follow the Trump site /r/ The_Donald because people post crap that’s censored or just not allowed on the left wing political board..Folks that don’t like Trump mention in threads that they go there to see stuff the left won’t report on like Muslim terror attacks...Many people know they are being lied to and it’s up to them to accept it..It’s like crime in big cities..It’s just been mainstream so long they don’t care unless whites are doing it against minorities..

Txpl9421 Sat, 10/28/2017 - 14:41 Permalink

Facebook can censor whatever they want. The government cannot. At least on this level, Facebook is not the ?gov.

Why is it people don't understand your freedom of speech is protected when YOU say it. No one has any obligation to carry or transmit what you think. The Tyler's could come on and change anything you write and there is nothing protecting you or me.

Consuelo Sat, 10/28/2017 - 14:49 Permalink

  Ok, so you have a relative of Trotsky and his similar worldview as head of the largest social media company in the world, along with an executive staff similarly cut of the same cloth.You (James Bovard) and the rest of us, also have incontrovertible truth that proves intelligence agency funding/support/interference, etc., ad-infinitum into the creation and continued support of Facebook policy.So, why is this any surprise...? Let us stop worrying about what Facebook does (we know what they do...), and start hammering what their real purpose was/is for existing... 

seataka Sat, 10/28/2017 - 14:59 Permalink

I run a news feed of Zerohedge, and related articles on FB . I have 200 followers.If I post something sensitive I make an image and title the image fuzzykittens-playing.jpgIn last couple weeks censorship on FB  it has grown more intenseI have watched replies to close freinds I know in real life  marked as SPAM and deleted, before they could even see it.I suppose I should have walked away at the very first whiff...It is just one more means to get the truth outI fear that soon we will be back to something like handing floppy disks to the neighbors like I was doing back in 1994.

Endgame Napoleon Anonymous IX Sat, 10/28/2017 - 17:49 Permalink

If I start another business, I will have an FB site, but I will not post pics of myself, letting everyone know every move I made that week. I would not even post special occasion pics. If I had gotten married in the FB era, no one would have seen my wedding dress on FB. Now, if I had a wedding shop, I would post on it a lot. Are your “friends” that interested? Ask yourself. Maybe, these people know their “friends” are waiting for their next post.

In reply to by Anonymous IX

pigpen Sat, 10/28/2017 - 15:04 Permalink

Well James, if the digital advertising monopolies are censoring you then it is time for every citizen to use brave browser and run all social media apps in brave browser and by default block advertising, tracking and malware.We are in control of our media and if goobook won't share advertising$ with us then we should render their business worthless.What is advertising worth if goobook can't serve ad, track us and then advertising is blocked?Every citizen immediately needs to show the goobook who is in charge in this equationWe will no longer be the product.Cheers,Pigpen

Lucretius pigpen Sun, 10/29/2017 - 11:37 Permalink

That is a great idea PP, but sadly, most idiots (Wifey included!) do not know how to use their "devices/phones" so they are by default USED by those said devices. Ya ya, I use Linux Mint, ABP, privacy badger, ghostery, etc., but when speaking of these things, people think you are speaking a firegn language. No, I purposely do not use Fk book. In fact, I do not even have a phone! Hack that bitchez!!!

In reply to by pigpen

rejected Sat, 10/28/2017 - 15:46 Permalink

It's their site,,, their servers,,, you name it, it belongs to FarceBook and they can do whatever they want. If you don't like it, then go somewhere else, spend YOUR money for a site or go Fish.Anyone using these sites are stupid or nuts or both and deserve whatever happens.Oh,,, boys and girls, and those inbetween,,, the new Iphone X is out. Better run and get yours today! Only a thousand buckeroos. Not bad for a piece of plastic, couple of chips and a battery all assembled by someone earning $ 5 bucks or so a day. Whole thing probably cost $10 to make.

wdg Sat, 10/28/2017 - 16:10 Permalink

F**k FakeBook and F**kerBerg.  Sorry about the crude language but sometimes it seems appropriate when dealing with the Orwellian world of fake media and social media censors such as FakeBook, Twitter, YouTube and of course Google. Our basic freedom and liberty are under sustained attack by forces of darkness. And this will not be resolved at the ballot box because the system is totally corrupt but once again on the battlefield. I fear a lot of blood will be shed before our national sovereignty and freedom are once again restored.   

earleflorida DarthVaderMentor Sat, 10/28/2017 - 18:59 Permalink

something[s] to ponder?  ::FB > takes-off 5yrs [2012] ago with ?one-nobody?, and today its 'market cap = $517Bln'GOOG (Alphabet [2014]) restructured) > takes-off 3 years ago with 'Two Idiots and a ?Hindoo? and Eric the Great from Novell and Sun Micro Systems and today its 'market cap = $714 Bln'AMZN > takes-off  8 years ago [2009] with ?one-nobody?, and today its 'market cap = $531 Bln'AAPL > takes-off 9 years ago [2008] with a 'dead-guy 2009/50%-2011/100%?', and today its 'market-cap = $843 Bln'where the fuck did these guys get their seed-money?their all agents of the London 'Money Kings' using 'Trust Bonds' under Joint-Stock Corporations where the deeds stock ownership are held in London by the 'Money Kingscheck it out for yourself and find out who controls the stock, lock-stock-and barrell![and],... they're all monopolies!!!and don't get me started on MSFT... Mr. Softy $647 Bln today 

In reply to by DarthVaderMentor

NotBuyingIt Sat, 10/28/2017 - 17:46 Permalink

I hate Fakebook and will never use it ever.Well, there is one consolation for those of us who would just LOVE to see Suckerberg bite the big one: Teens HATE Fakebook! LOL!! As a demographic, up-and-coming young folks think Fakebook is for the "old" people. They tend towards Instagram, Snapchat and other trendy apps. So HEHEHE! The future is NOT Fakebook.

Downtoolong Sun, 10/29/2017 - 10:20 Permalink

 “So, when did showing the home of more than 70 people engulfed in flames after a FBI assault become beyond the pale [on Facebook]?” Answer: Ever since Facebook started using Artificial Intelligence to make management decisions on its platform.  Which it has done from the very beginning, because, that’s a fundamental aspect of the way its entire platform is designed to operate.  I find it amazing that users with 10 years of experience on Facebook still don’t seem to understand this. No human at Facebook ever gets involved in either accepting or censoring posts on its platform until someone complains and forces them to investigate. The entire process is 99.9% automated. I know that, and I don’t even use the shitty thing. Welcome to the new world order, where Facebook has already subordinated you to machines in its social hierarchy. And just when you thought living in “The Matrix” was the worst it could get.