Facebook Has Severe Left Bias, Study Claims

Facebook logo on smartphone
Facebook logo on smartphone | Image by Chesnot/Getty Images

A study by the Media Research Center claims that Facebook meddled in U.S. elections at least 39 times by amplifying left-wing and left-leaning posts and censoring dissidents and the political right.

The social media platform’s alleged interference goes at least as far back as former President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. According to the study, Facebook suspended the account of Special Operations Speaks, a veteran-led PAC, for posting a meme critical of the Obama administration during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

“We created and posted this meme on Saturday after news broke that Obama had known and denied SEALS the backup they requested,” the page’s administrator, Larry Ward, told Breitbart News, per the study. “Once the meme was up it garnered 30,000 shares, approx. 24,000 likes, and was read by hundreds of thousands of people — all within 24 hrs.”

Facebook removed the post and a subsequent repost for violating “Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” according to screenshots included in the Breitbart report. After the publicity, a Facebook manager at the time, Andrew Noyes, denied the company was intentionally censoring the post and claimed that it was done in error.

But more instances of Facebook taking actions that purportedly influenced elections to the benefit of mainstream Democrats only followed.

Four years after the veteran PAC posts, Facebook suspended six supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), an independent vying for the Democratic nomination against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The social media giant also blocked posts that linked to stories about leaked Democratic National Committee emails that allegedly showed the party apparatus undermining Sanders’ campaign.

Facebook also allegedly began suppressing stories in its trending section, with curators purportedly introducing their own bias in order to exclude stories on popular right-leaning topics or candidates like Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that would have likely otherwise had a higher profile on the site.

The company also removed certain memes and cartoons, purportedly for being anti-Clinton or pro-Donald Trump. In one example, the account that posted a picture of Clinton with the words “Silly Americans” and “Laws are for poor people” was suspended. According to the study, Facebook targeted memes that garnered 10 million views in a week. The pro-Trump page “Disdain for Plebs” was constantly censored and prevented from posting political cartoons that had gone viral.

Media Research Center (MRC) found that the pattern of censorship on the world’s largest social media platform continued in every subsequent election cycle. Facebook often allegedly censored posts by populist and right-wing candidates for ostensibly violating policies against depictions and threats of violence. However, it would be unclear how the post, such as a 2018 campaign announcement by Republican Michigan state senate candidate Aric Nesbitt, violated the policy, as it only contained his policy positions. The social media posting stated:

“I’m proud to announce my candidacy for State Senate. Lansing needs conservative, West Michigan values, and as our next State Senator, I will work to strengthen our economy, limit government, lower our auto insurance rates, balance the budget, stop sanctuary cities, pay down government debt and be a Pro-Life, Pro-Second Amendment leader for the people. Find out more at www.VoteNesbitt.com.”

A Facebook spokesperson later said the incident was an error caused by an automated system, and the post was restored as soon as the error was brought to the attention of the platform administrators.

Facebook allegedly interfered multiple times in the 2018 elections to suppress anti-abortion and pro-border security campaigns, per MRC’s research. That election cycle saw both the House and Senate flip to Democratic control.

But all of the purported acts of censorship and suppression through 2018 were only a prelude to the 2020 election when the social media giant allegedly ramped up its censorship machine to another gear. Facebook employed many censorship techniques honed over the years, like using keyword algorithms, and combined them with new ones, including an army of content moderators, to practically lock down the site to stifle right-leaning advocacy, the study alleges.

For the 2022 election cycle, Facebook, by then rebranded as “Meta” to include another sister social media platform, Instagram, continued its alleged censorship of the political right. Kari Lake, the Republican candidate for governor in Arizona in 2022, was allegedly suspended from Instagram for 24 hours for posting pictures of herself meeting with prospective voters on the campaign trail.

The leadup to the 2022 election occurred during the COVID-19 lockdowns. MRC documented multiple times when Facebook censored, suppressed, or altogether removed posts questioning COVID-19 vaccine efficacy or pandemic alarmism.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has a history of rhetorically supporting free speech, and there is some evidence to suggest that the acts of censorship employed by the Facebook and Meta teams may have been happening in spite of his personal views.

Comparing Facebook to Google, which MRC also profiled for even more egregious election interference last month, MRC founder and president Brent Bozell told Fox News:

“Like Google, Facebook has an extensive history of interfering in U.S. elections. But it’s not completely fair to compare the two companies. I believe some part of Mark Zuckerberg believes in free speech. Google management clearly does not. But regardless of what Mr. Zuckerberg believes, his company’s policies and practices have resulted in a great deal of censorship that always seems to target the same side of the political spectrum, and it needs to stop.”

Facebook appears to continue to show bias against Republicans and non-Democratic candidates, placing fact-check labels on Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s posts and posts questioning the left’s climate change narrative.

Those who favor limiting speech online argue that online platforms are private companies that are not held to a First Amendment standard, and speech regulations must evolve with the times.

The new CEO of National Public Radio, Katherin Maher, made headlines last week when, during a 2021 panel discussion with journalists, she said the First Amendment posed the “number one challenge” for getting “bad information” off social media platforms.

MRC’s findings about the extent of left-wing bias at Meta appear to be part of a larger trend of bias throughout establishment media against populists, independents, and those on the right. In addition to the aforementioned Google, another major internet hub, Twitter, has also extensively censored speech on one side of the political spectrum, often in the service of federal law enforcement.

As The Dallas Express reported, when Elon Musk bought Twitter, which he rebranded as X, he also released what became known as the “Twitter Files” to prove that Twitter had a political bias problem. Musk said he wanted to reveal the bias because he feared censorship was splintering society.

“The reason I acquired Twitter is because it is important to the future of civilization to have a common digital town square, where a wide range of beliefs can be debated in a healthy manner, without resorting to violence,” Musk said when he purchased the company. “There is currently great danger that social media will splinter into far right-wing and far left-wing echo chambers that generate more hate and divide our society.”

MRC’s findings are not the first time Meta has been accused of improper political meddling. The company recently settled a $725 million lawsuit for violating user privacy by collecting their data for “voter profiling and targeting.”

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