Earlier this month, President Trump fired a broadside at the political bias that seems to pervade tech companies like Google and Facebook. The same day, James Barrett reported at the Daily Wire, the New York Times published a memo penned by Facebook senior engineer Brian Amerige laying out what he called the company’s “problem with political diversity.”
The memo also calls for a movement within Facebook to promote more tolerance of those with non-leftist political views he claims are currently enforced by employees. According to the report, dozens of fellow employees have joined the movement since that memo was published.
The memo, titled, “We Have a Problem with Political Diversity,” starts:
We are a political monoculture that’s intolerant of different views. We claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack—often in mobs—anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology. We throw labels that end in *obe and *ist at each other, attacking each other’s character rather than their ideas.
We do this so consistently that employees are afraid to say anything when they disagree with what’s around them politically. HR has told me that this is not a rare concern, and I’ve personally gotten over a hundred messages to that effect. Your colleagues are afraid because they know that they — not their ideas — will be attacked. They know that all the talk of “openness to different perspectives” does not apply to causes of “social justice,” immigration, “diversity”, and “equality.” On this issues, you can either keep quiet or sacrifice your reputation and career.
“These are not fears without cause,” Amerige said. “Because we tear down posters welcoming Trump supporters. We regularly propose removing Thiel from our board because he supported Trump. We’re quick to suggest firing people who turn out to be misunderstood, and even quicker to conclude our colleagues are bigots. We have made ‘All Lives Matter’ a fireable offense. We put Palmer Luckey through a witch hunt because he paid for anti-Hillary ads. We write each other ad-hoc feedback in the PSC tool for having ‘offensive’ ideas. We ask HR to investigate those who dare to criticize Islam’s human rights record for creating a ‘non inclusive environment.’ And they called me a transphobe when I called out our corporate art for being politically radical.”
This lack of diversity, Amerige said, “is not okay,” explaining that it affects the company’s internal culture as well as its “viability…”
Moreover, he said, the problem isn’t unique to Facebook, stating that the social media giant is “entrusted by a great part of the world to be impartial and transparent carriers of people’s stories, ideas, and commentary.”
“Congress,” he added, “doesn’t think we can do this. The President doesn’t think we can do this. And like them or not, we deserve that criticism. We are blind to and dismissive of what people beyond our walls (let alone even within our walls) think about complex issues that matter. I’ve been here for nearly 6.5 years and this has gotten exponentially worse in the last 2.”
He then encouraged employees to join him in a group called, “FB’ers for Political Diversity” in an effort to correct the situation.
“There’s only going to be one core rule in the group, and it’s that if you attack a person’s character, rather than their ideas, you will be banned. Let’s see where this goes,” he said in conclusion.
According to the New York Times, over 100 employees have joined the group but not everyone at Facebook is thrilled with the effort.
The Times report added:
The new group has upset other Facebook employees, who said its online posts were offensive to minorities. One engineer, who declined to be identified for fear of retaliation, said several people had lodged complaints with their managers about FB’ers for Political Diversity and were told that it had not broken any company rules.
Another employee said the group appeared to be constructive and inclusive of different political viewpoints. Mr. Amerige did not respond to requests for comment.
Granted, 100 employees is a tiny fraction of the more than 25,000 who work for the company, but it’s a start.
The memo is also somewhat eye-opening. As regular readers of this site know, Facebook, the site once dubbed the “world’s most dangerous censor” by Breitbart and “Iron FistBook” by political cartoonist A.F. Branco, is well known for censoring conservative posts and pages, pulling pro-Trump pages and groups for questionable reasons, and using its algorithms to severely slash traffic to conservative pages.
Christian pages like “Warriors for Christ” have also felt the brunt of Facebook’s wrath on many occasions, usually over incidents involving the page’s opposition to the LGBT agenda.
The site’s Orwellian enforcement was also the inspiration for “Banned: How Facebook Enables Militant Islamic Jihad,” a 2016 book authored by yours truly and American Israeli Adina Kutnicki.
As a result, activist Chris Sevier drafted a proposal to stop censorship by social media giants. One South Carolina lawmaker has said he intends to introduce the measure in December, and, we are told, other lawmakers in other states are willing to do the same.
In a sentence, social media websites are simply private businesses that are engaging in contracts and yes, they can be held liable for tortious conduct like breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, unjust enrichment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, bad faith, and unfair dealing, as I first noted here.
Right now, people who are being censored on Facebook feel powerless because it is too expensive to sue big social media companies, companies which, I might add, have limitless resources, even though they could. Plus, it is extremely difficult, if not downright impossible, to calculate damages, and also, it is unclear who would prevail because of the terms and conditions set by the social media website that were agreed upon when the user signed up.
However, state legislatures have jurisdiction to create a private right of action for certain kinds of violations. They can impose statutory damages and can also allow for injured parties to see attorney fees and costs.
Moreover, a new website gives victims of Facebook’s censorship the opportunity to share their stories.
Adding insult to injury, a USA Today op-ed said social media giants like Facebook are a menace and the real “enemies of the people.”
Pamela Geller, a frequent target of Facebook’s enforcement, said government intervention is necessary, and, she added, “we need these employees subpoenaed.”
A post at Gizmodo, however, mocked the idea of Facebook censorship, actually claimed with a straight face that there’s no evidence to support the notion — despite the ever-growing mountain of evidence to the contrary. The post went so far as to claim “that for the past few years the site has been absolutely terrified of angering them and thus triggering backlash from their allies in government.”
Tell that to the conservatives and Christians who have actually been censored by the site, like the conservative woman who was told her profile picture of a lilac tree was pornographic, or the Trump-supporting conservative who was told a picture of a 2012 Trump campaign button violated the site’s rules on nudity. The button only showed Trump’s face.
Yours truly was repeatedly banned by Facebook in the latter half of 2015 over posts that were forged to appear as though I created them. The site also handed a 30-day ban over a picture of an eagle superimposed on a U.S. flag.
There are many, many more stories like this here at the Conservative Firing Line. But Gizmodo would have us believe this doesn’t happen.
“In any case,” Gizmodo said, “Amerige’s letter seems almost deliberately constructed to draw the attention of the conservative media and perhaps the president himself. So buckle up, because this is probably not gonna end anytime soon.”
That last sentence, at least, is very true.
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