On August 14th, 2018, The UK Sun revealed quotes obtained by The Australian from a four-hour closed-door meeting with Facebook executive and head of news partnerships Campbell Brown.
Among other things, the exec was accused of threatening media organizations by telling them that their businesses would end up “in a hospice” if they did not comply.
“We will help you revitalize journalism … in a few years the reverse looks like I’ll be holding your hands with your dying business like in a hospice.” – Campbell Brown, head of Facebook news partnerships
Campbell was also quoted as saying “We are not interested in talking to you about your traffic and referrals anymore. That is the old world and there is no going back – Mark wouldn’t agree to this.”
The bluntest and most revealing statement from Ms. Brown was her opinion on Mark Zuckerberg’s thoughts about page owners.
“Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t care about publishers but is giving me a lot of leeway and concessions to make these changes”
These statements were later confirmed by five separate sources who were present at the meeting.
However, Brown insists that the quotes have been “taken out of context” and are “not accurate,” but has yet to release a full transcript of the meeting.
“These quotes are simply not accurate and don’t reflect the discussion we had in the meeting.”
“We know there’s much more to do, but our goal at Facebook — what the team works on every day with publishers and reporters around the world — is to help journalism succeed and thrive, both on our platform and off.”
As Facebook has been on the assault against page owners lately, deleting or unpublishing nearly 80 pages in June alone and more since, these quotes further reveal the company’s stance on free speech and journalism on the platform.
One Facebook page admin reached out this morning as several of his pro-Trump pages were allegedly deleted by Facebook, including Donald Trump for President (517,000 followers), Melania Trump America’s First Lady (556,000 followers), and Ivanka Trump Americas First Daughter (220,000 followers).
Other page owners have gone through similar issues as well. After Facebook deleted Collectively Conscious (915,000 followers) with no warning, founder and page admin Jake Passi sent the information to the Better Business Bureau (BBB) only to receive a message from Facebook claiming that “the Page in question is published and doesn’t have any issues.”
Today, Facebook claimed that the page was unpublished for “causing people to like or engage with it in unintentionally in a misleading way.” Jake has asked for clarification as to what that means but has not yet been given a response.
In a bizarre conversation with a separate Facebook executive, Jake was told that “these things take longer then 1 day” and was eventually denied help and blocked with the message “I am not willing to support people who are not responsible for their own life…You must have violated a policy or something.”
“I don’t get to know why my page got deleted. I don’t get an opportunity to appeal. I don’t get an opportunity to alter my posting behavior. I don’t get an opportunity to discuss with someone the possibility that my page may have been deleted by mistake or show them the email from advertiser support where they told me the 7-day restriction which was placed on my page for ‘clickbait’ was due to a ‘false positive’ triggering the spam detection system.” – Jake Passi
Also, earlier this month another page owner with over 500,000 likes said in private that several pages which “definitely have the traffic Alex Jones pulls in” are thinking about removing their Facebook and YouTube pages in protest, rather than to eventually be deplatformed.
In an interview with MIC journalist Chauncey Alcorn, The Free Thought Project founder Jason Bassler decried the censorship Facebook has been engaging in, particularly since the banning of Alex Jones across social media.
“I feel like this is going to lead to a very slippery slope, and a dangerous path for freedom of speech and information exchange in general…It’s not a beneficial thing in society for any type of censorship of free speech, regardless of how outlandish or crazy.”
8/21/18 8:27 PM PST: This article has been updated to include links to the Donald Trump for President, Melania Trump America’s First Lady, and Ivanka Trump America’s First Daughter Facebook pages.