I am the bad boy of Facebook.
I earned that badge of honor back in 2013 when Facebook blocked my page and removed a message I had posted that invoked Paula Deen, the National Rifle Association and Jesus Christ. Here’s what I wrote:
“I’m about as politically incorrect as you can get. I’m wearing an NRA ball cap, eating a Chick-fil-A sandwich, reading a Paula Deen cookbook and sipping a 20-ounce sweet tea while sitting in my Cracker Barrel rocking chair with the Gaither Vocal Band singing ‘Jesus Saves’ on the stereo and a Gideon’s Bible in my pocket. Yes sir, I’m politically incorrect and happy as a June bug.”
The folks over at Facebook took great offense to that message.
“We removed this from Facebook because it violates our Community Standards,” Facebook wrote me. “So you’re temporarily blocked from using this feature.”
I wasn’t even allowed to post our daily Bible verse — a popular feature called “Morning Glory — Start Your Day Inspired.”
For the record, I really do have a Cracker Barrel rocking chair, I’m quite fond of sweet tea, I love Chick-fil-A, I’m a huge fan of Southern Gospel music, I own several Paula Deen cookbooks and I’m a proud member of the National Rifle Association.
Does that make me a bad person?
I was genuinely perplexed by Facebook’s censors – befuddled even.
So I decided to investigate Facebook’s community standards – which at best – are rather vague. Among its commandments were bans on nudity, bullying, harassment, graphic content, pornography and spam.
For the record, I require all of our followers to wear pants and Miss Paula was not doing anything unladylike with a stick of butter.
It is true that one of my daily postings included some spam – a delicious recipe for a fried spam sandwich.
It’s even more puzzling that they would target a patriotic, conservative website like mine when they allow a host of vulgar, violent and pornographic sites to stay in business.
Among the sites I found just this morning:
“F*** Donald Trump”
“F*** Sarah Palin Hoe A** B****
“Tea Party Can Kiss My A**”
“Rush Limbaugh is an Abject A******”
Had I been reading Saul Alinsky’s “Rules For Radicals,” wearing a Planned Parenthood ball cap and smoking a joint, Facebook would’ve left me alone.
Facebook’s decision to block me generated quite a bit of outrage. Don’t choke on your Fruit Loops, but even the folks over at The Washington Post came to my defense.
And a few hours after banning me, Facebook had a change of heart.
“A member of our team accidentally removed something you posted on Facebook,” they told me in an email. “This was a mistake and we sincerely apologize for this error.”
Since that fateful day, I’ve noticed that my page has been subjected to random censorship by the Facebook gods. I’ve received dozens of complaints from readers who tell me my content no longer appears on their pages. In some cases, Facebook won’t allow them to share my postings.
And I’ve lost count of the number of fellow conservative writers whose pages have been blocked, banned or censored.
So I wasn’t all that surprised when a group of former Facebook workers told the tech news website Gizmodo that they put a liberal spin on “Trending Topics” – and routinely censored conservative news.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg strongly denied the allegations.
“Facebook stands for giving everyone a voice,” he wrote in a Facebook posting. “We believe the world is better when people from different backgrounds and with different ideas all have the power to share their thoughts and experiences. That’s what makes social media unique.”
Mr. Zuckerberg has agreed to meet with some conservative newsmakers later this week to address the allegations that Facebook suppressed conservative content.
“The reason I care so much about this is that it gets to the core of everything Facebook is and everything I want it to be,” he wrote. “Every tool we build is designed to give more people a voice and bring our global community together. For as long as I’m leading this company this will always be our mission.”
I really want to believe that Mr. Zuckerberg’s social networking platform is a place where anyone can share anything –a place that gives people a voice — including people who ascribe to traditional American values.
Because any community that frowns upon the Good Book and sweet tea is a community that violates my personal standards.
Todd Starnes is host of Fox News Commentary, heard on hundreds of radio stations. His latest book is “God Less America: Real Stories From the Front Lines of the Attack on Traditional Values.” Follow Todd on Twitter@ToddStarnes and find him on Facebook.