Facebook for the second time — even after admitting it made a mistake doing the same thing — ghosted a conservative group in Illinois that is opposed to Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s strict coronavirus lockdowns.
The group dubbed “Join Pritzker Lawsuit” was hobbled last week by Facebook, although the tech giant told The Washington Times the site was blocked in error and was restored it to the web.
Almost immediately, however, Facebook began aggressively policing posts on the group, which has some 62,000 members, according to its founder Laura Grock.
Ms. Grock, a conservative activist attorney in Chicago, filed a lawsuit against Mr. Pritzker similar to the one a nonprofit filed in Michigan against another Democratic governor, Gretchen Whitmer, for repeatedly extending stringent economic closures. The Michigan suit was upheld by the state supreme court, which also tossed out the law Ms. Whitmer said she was using for her extraordinary powers.
The Illinois lawsuit is in limbo at the moment because the judge was subsequently appointed to the federal bench, Ms. Grock said.
In early October, Facebook began taking down posts, some of which had been up for months, on the “Join Pritzker Lawsuit” and the separate “Recall Governor J.B. Pritzker,” which has nearly 31,000 members and was still active Monday.
The posts Facebook removed included memes of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in a bikini cradling a rifle, which Facebook said violated “community standards on public nudity and sexual activity.” Posts that discussed treatments for COVID-19 outside of drugs approved by the FDA were also removed, according to evidence provided by Ms. Grock.
The moves to shut down conservative outlets comes at a time when social media companies have been accused of putting a heavy thumb on the electoral scale in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
In the most glaring example, Facebook and Twitter prohibited members from posting or linking to stories by The New York Post that detail shady foreign business deals of Hunter Biden, the son of Democratic presidential nominee Joseph R. Biden.
The Bidens have denied any corrupt dealings but have never disputed the validity of the documents and emails recovered from a laptop computer purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden.
Twitter said it had acted improperly in blacking out The New York Post’s stories, but it was not until last week, after Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey testified to a Senate committee, that the company unlocked the Post’s account.
Similarly, Facebook said it had acted in error when it blacked out the conservative groups in Illinois, although Ms. Grock contends the company did so once it believed the public believed it had reversed course.
“After they restored our group last Tuesday, [they] disabled us again within a day or two, once again without showing us what the violations actually were,” Ms. Grock said. “I have spent hours guessing at what content Facebook finds to be a violation of Community Standards or what they consider dangerous individuals and organizations and removing it - likely content that isn’t a problem.”
“Meanwhile, thousands of other Facebook groups are posting the same content or posting material that is truly dangerous or pornographic,” she said.
On Monday, Facebook said it would once again review the matter and requested examples of the posts in question, but Ms. Grock said she could not provide them because Facebook has erased the group entirely.
The pattern speaks for itself, however, as far as Ms. Grock is concerned.
“It looks like what they find to be in violation of community standards is President Trump and conservative-leaning news and opinion in general,” he said.
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