As you may have already heard, there’s a recall effort going on in California right now, aiming to remove Governor Gavin Newsom from office. Even if the proponents of that movement manage to gather the required number of signatures and get the measure on the ballot, it’s far from a sure thing that there will be enough votes to actually replace him. But a little thing like public debate isn’t going to stop Facebook from making its intentions clear well in advance. As our colleague, Scott Hounsell reports this week at RedState, the social media giant is now refusing to sell any advertising space for messages supporting the recall effort. This sort of blatant liberal bias and favoritism is just so painfully obvious and Facebook isn’t even making the slightest effort to disguise it.
Now, in a *shocking* ( and by “shocking” I mean completely predictable) turn of events, the Fascbook Ad Nazis have said to the movement to recall the oh-incompetent-one, Gavin Newsom, “No ads for you!”
According to Carl DeMaio, the chairman for Reform California, a group currently circulating petitions to recall Newsom, Facebook notified them that they will no longer accept the placement of ads to recall Mr. French Laundry. Over the last couple of weeks there has been a concerted effort from the violent and militant left to tie all conservative organizations to the violence which struck the Capitol. To be clear, what happened at the Capitol was violent, unnecessary, and completely out of line, and anyone who participated in that action should be charged and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. That being said, attempting to tie non-violent people and movements to the actions of a violent few is equally deplorable.
So there will be no advertising allowed in support of the recall movement, but you can still purchase all the ads you can afford in support of the Governor’s reelection. Vague suggestions that Reform California (the group organizing the recall effort) is somehow associated with the January 6th Capitol Hill riot and “endorsing violence” carry no weight whatsoever. Nobody from the group has been identified as having been involved with that attack in any way.
Scott writes that Facebook “is free to do as they please as a private company” in the linked article. But is that really true? I seem to recall being told that anyone offering products or services to the general public couldn’t refuse service based on a variety of qualifiers if the refusal was being done for discriminatory purposes. Can you discriminate against a person or organization based on their position in a public policy debate?
If Reform California was running advertisements urging people to attack the Governor or burn down Sacramento, you could definitely understand a decision by a company to refuse their advertisements. But Reform California obviously isn’t doing that. They’re urging people to sign petitions and vote. I have to wonder if Facebook would allow advertisements promoting the sale of Vicky Osterweil’s book, In Defense of Looting. That’s someone who is literally encouraging acts of criminality and violence. We might want to look through a list of Facebook’s previous advertisers and see what turns up.
What we’re seeing here is yet another case where the Big Tech giants who now control the lion’s share of speech on the internet have run wild and need to be brought under control somehow. What Facebook is doing is deplatforming Reform California by refusing to engage in a legitimate advertising business arrangement with them. And they’re doing it because they don’t like the message being expressed. Facebook cannot honestly make the claim that Reform California can simply “take their business elsewhere.” By growing to the size it has, Facebook has effectively established a monopoly in that brand of social media interaction. Under other circumstances, they would be at risk of violating anti-trust laws.
Sadly, according to the rules by which the game is currently played, Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Google are all allowed to deal from both the bottom and the top of the deck. They can claim to not be responsible for the content on their sites while regulating the speech of any of their users they deem to be insufficiently woke. But now, Facebook is taking the game to a new level by denying paying customers the opportunity to advertise based on the discriminatory positions held by its owners. A way to stop this sort of activity needs to be found, but at the moment I’m at a loss to suggest how that might happen.