By Erica Thomas, managing editor
SPRINGVILLE — A Springville man said he is upset after being censored on Facebook for supporting police.
A Springville High School student painted his parking spot at the school with a Thin Blue Line flag. Matthew Cherry commented on a photo shared of the parking spot and suggested the Springville Police Department do the same. He also suggested that the Springville Fire Department paint a Thin Red Line flag in its parking spot. He used several hashtags including #BackTheBlue, #ihaveyoursix, and #BlueLivesMatter.
A couple of days later, Cherry received a notification that his comment was removed for violating Facebook’s Community Standards on spam.
“It aggravates me that we can’t show our support to those who protect us on a daily basis especially in the time we are in with everything that’s happening to officers, deputies and Troopers across the country without having our rights violated,” Cherry said.
Facebook and other social media censorship has been in the minds of Americans after several high-profile incidents where people were reported, blocked and accounts suspended for commenting on their beliefs.
On Tuesday, Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall announced he and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, launched an initiative aimed at addressing censorship on social media platforms. As part of the initiative, the official website of each attorney general now provides a “Social Media Censorship Complaint Form” for the public to report abuses by Big Tech.
Marshall and Landry are encouraging the public to enlist in the fight against Big Tech censorship, calling on all persons who have been censored online to file a formal complaint. The information provided in these complaints will be kept confidential, in accordance with each state’s laws, and will be actively reviewed and thoroughly analyzed to determine whether the reported conduct by social media companies constitutes a violation of federal or state law.
“Big Tech is not the Ministry of Truth,” said Marshall. “It should concern us all when platforms that hold such tremendous power and influence over information wield that power in contradiction of—and with undisguised disdain for—the foundational American principles of free speech and freedom of the press. The censorship campaign currently being waged by giant corporate oligarchs like Facebook and Twitter is, in a word, un-American.”
Cherry said the censorship of his support of law enforcement is an overreach of Big Tech and it goes against his beliefs.
“Coming from a military family, with family members who are currently serving the military, and some who are retired from the military, I was raised to always show support to those who protect us on a daily basis from the military to law Enforcement,” Cherry added.
As for his future on social media, Cherry said he won’t let Big Tech intimidate him from continuing to show support for the things that matter to him. He said he hopes the social media platform makes changes and allows users to express themselves.
“They have too much control,” Cherry said. “They need to have the control that they have reeled in. It’s unacceptable that they are allowed to continue to violate our First Amendment Rights.”
Other issues Marshall said are being censored online include political speech, healthcare research, and economic activity.
“Big Tech has censored content to fit their ideological bents—violating users’ rights to silence opposition,” Landry said. “Social media platforms have altered and deleted content, blocked and restricted access, removed and banned accounts, and more. I encourage all who have been impacted to file a complaint, and I hope this initiative will expose just how far-reaching the suppression has been.”
Facebook says the purpose of its Community Standards is to keep abuse off of its service, which has over two billion users.
“That’s why we’ve developed a set of Community Standards that outline what is and is not allowed on Facebook,” Facebook says. “Our policies are based on feedback from our community and the advice of experts in fields such as technology, public safety and human rights. To ensure that everyone’s voice is valued, we take great care to craft policies that are inclusive of different views and beliefs, in particular those of people and communities that might otherwise be overlooked or marginalized.”
Facebook claims it wants to be a place for expression and a place to bring the world closer together.