In a few moments, President Donald Trump is slated to give a speech at a Las Vegas megamall, and everyone will tune in to see what he has to say.
Wouldn’t it be nice to know that whenever that happens, the president will not have his posts from Facebook re-platformed — and what he will say as a result? That isn’t something people would think to ask, but that’s exactly what a recent internal Facebook document called a “comment to unpublished content removal.”
(Of course, private and non-public materials don’t have to be publicly accessible. This policy was meant to cover that — once, if ever.)
The document, published by The Daily Caller and first reported by The Washington Post, shows Facebook restricted the right-wing activist group Liberty Counsel’s post about the Las Vegas shooting at a secular resort, Grand Geneva, and then restored it after a false report of a neo-Nazi plot to kidnap Trump’s children.
And it explains why Facebook takes such actions.
The two posts were written in the same comment, first published on Facebook to say that a plane had been hijacked in Las Vegas. Of course, that didn’t happen, and that’s not why Liberty Counsel was punished.
The comment was subsequently removed because a newspaper in Palm Springs, California, “reported” that someone had claimed there were Nazis in Palm Springs — as though the comment truly contained the correct, correct information. (A second post said the accusation was unsubstantiated.) And then, Liberty Counsel received a message from Facebook, telling them that the post should not be removed because that was what the update said — on the record, Facebook.
That didn’t sit well with the group’s head, Mat Staver. He tweeted that Facebook needed to “end the censorship today.”
“The censorship on the Facebook 2016/2017 report is illegal under United States law. They violated State and Federal laws,” he said.
Next, an article was posted on the same thread saying that there was no neo-Nazi plot to kidnap the Trump children. But as soon as it was published, Facebook took it down, and then restored it again.
“In response to the reports, we investigated the situation and concluded that there were not sufficient new facts to support further review of the post,” the post said.
Facebook officials “confirmed that it was a legitimate comment in Facebook’s public comments section. The information obtained from the actual post at Grand Geneva and confirmed by Facebook sources that has reported the post to remove it,” the post said.
The post then “restored” a different status update “under normal conditions” and “issued the approval for those Facebook users to discuss the incident under the page comments section.” (If you find yourself in trouble on Facebook, sometimes it’s even better to claim you’re on top of things, get a “prompt” reply, and then pose to your friends why you were magically cleared. How bad must it be for you that you don’t get a response?)
Whatever the results of Thursday’s speech, Trump will be hoping he doesn’t have to explain why Facebook changed their mind about him being a true Neo-Nazi, either.