Over the last few years, Facebook has done several “purges” of accounts and pages they say violate their terms of service.
Conservatives argue that the purges are targeting them in an effort to censor their messages. Facebook says the purges are only targeted at those who promote violence and hate speech.
Recently, Facebook did another purge of profiles, groups, and pages which set off another controversy about the company’s motivations behind doing so, especially so close to the November election.
As part of the purge, Idaho Republican State Senate candidate Eric Parker (District 26) had his profile and campaign page completely removed from the platform.
To our knowledge, Parker is the only candidate in Idaho who has had their page removed.
Parker is challenging Democrat State Senator Michelle Stennett for her seat. The district is considered one of the few “swing” districts for the Idaho legislature.
Over the last few months, Parker has increased his efforts in the campaign and is attempting to mount a serious challenge for the seat.
Some pointed to his higher vote total in the Republican primary than Stennett in the Democrat primary as a sign that Parker could pull off the victory.
Of course, often times when an incumbent of a party is in a district that typically votes in one direction, there can be less of a turnout than normal for the incumbent in the primary. In other words, Stennett and the Democrats have control of the district and less of their primary voters could be turning out than will turn out for the November election.
Some conservatives on Facebook consider this purge by Facebook against Parker to be politically motivated and some are accusing the company of election interference.
We asked Parker what Facebook told him when he tried to log in to his account and he told Idaho Dispatch,
Facebook did not mention anything specifically that I did or was accused of doing. The only thing they sent me was their community guidelines and said these are reasons we can deactivate someone’s account. No other reason was given.
We also asked Parker if he believes that his account being removed had anything to do with his 2014 standoff or his work with the Real 3% of Idaho.
Well, Ammon Bundy who was the center of the Nevada incident is still on Facebook and has not been taken down. I don’t believe it had anything to do with that. As far as the 3% organization, a number of our members are still active on Facebook after the purge and many of them have been in Facebook ‘jail’ quite a few times. I have only been in Facebook jail two or three times. Nothing more. Our organization does not promote violence but the defense of the U.S. constitution and our communities. Facebook has falsely labeled us things that we are not.
It is unclear at this time why exactly Facebook removed Parker, his group, and pages he runs. If Facebook did remove Parker’s campaign page for political reasons it would raise some legal questions.
However, to date, no evidence has been submitted that would tie Facebook’s motivation for removing Parker’s page directly to his campaign efforts against Democrat State Senator Michelle Stennett.
Idaho Dispatch also reached out to the Idaho Republican Party and asked them about the issue of one of their candidate’s pages being taken down by Facebook and they told us,
We are looking into the situation and reaching out to the candidate involved.
Rep. Christy Zito (Republican – Hammett) seemed concerned about Parker’s campaign page removal and Facebook’s continued censorship and told us in a statement,
It is a very sad state of affairs when a public platform will so blatantly shut down free speech. The bias and hypocrisy is just unconscionable. I hope Facebook is not interfering in our elections here in Idaho but that’s not something for me to determine and is better suited for law enforcement to look at.
Facebook said in a general public statement on the recent purge,
We have seen growing movements that, while not directly organizing violence, have celebrated violent acts, shown that they have weapons and suggest they will use them or have individual followers with patterns of violent behavior.
This appears to be a broader statement on pages, profiles, and groups that the company has purged but does not specifically address any particular person or group.
While Facebook’s removal of many militia and conservative groups has caught most of the headlines, they were not the only ones purged. Antifa and many individuals and groups associated with Antifa have also been removed.
Do you believe Facebook will censor more groups as the election nears or is this just part of Facebook’s regular routine of removing groups they claim have violated their content standards?
Let us know in the comments below.
Tags: ANTIFA, Banned, Christy Zito, Eric Parker, Facebook, Idaho, Idaho Republican Party, Purge