Editor's note: The following was sent to us by an admin of the Liberty Meme Facebook page. We present it to you without edit.
Facebook only censors really bad posts: harassment, indecent photos, national security secrets... But personal opinions, political commentaries, even controversial satire are all permitted in the name of open dialogue. It's a platform for honest communication.
So you might think. You would be wrong.
In 2013, my brother and I created the "Liberty Memes" page, to share our political humor with a wider audience than our own friends. As libertarians we know we're political outsiders. We just want some exposure for our ideas, and that's what Facebook seemed to offer.
Less than a week ago Liberty Memes reached 100,000 likes; today we're over 110,000.
So when the latest Hillary Clinton scandal came to light, we had a significant audience with whom to share our opinions about it - mostly in the form of memes with the tag #TooBigToJail.
One such meme was a photo of her face with the caption: "Silly Americans - Laws are for poor people"
.@Facebook only censors really bad posts...and political satire from #Liberty #Memes, with @HillaryClinton involved.
After it reached 10,000 likes, 50,000 shares, and 4 million views, Facebook removed the meme from our page and banned the admin who had posted it.
The reason? It "violates our community standards."
Which standard is that? We don't really know. When Facebook decides to censor you, there's no discussion and no explanation. The post simply disappears from the original page and from everyone who shared it. And the originator gets slapped on the wrist. Post enough "violations" of these mysterious standards and you'll be deleted like so many inconvenient emails.
Now, Facebook is a private company and has the right to limit content in whatever way the company chooses. But I suspect that most users aren't aware they're using their "community standards" ban-hammer to silence political opinions that they don't like.
Censorship naturally has a chilling effect on free speech. If you're afraid of getting temporarily or permanently banned by Facebook, you'll think twice before posting anything controversial again.
This fosters a climate of regulated speech and silencing dissent that reaches beyond Facebook. Much of what people have to say these days, they're saying on social media. So when free speech is getting choked out on Facebook, its survival elsewhere is threatened, too.
They might just pull the plug on Liberty Memes. "Admin #2" is one strike away from deletion. But then I guess we'll just have to post our dank memes somewhere else. And we'll take a hundred thousand people with us.
-Liberty Memes Admin #1