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U.S. senator demands Facebook do more to correct biased ‘fact-check’ of Live Action

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September 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Facebook has done far too little to correct its suppression of Live Action content based on the word of two abortion activists, U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley of Missouri told Family Research Council president Tony Perkins in an interview Thursday.

Last week, Facebook notified the pro-life group that it would be subject to “reduced distribution and other restrictions because of repeated sharing of false news,” a determination reached because two abortionists affiliated with the pro-abortion advocacy groups Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH) and Physicians for Reproductive Health disputed two of the pro-life group’s videos. Live Action responded with a detailed explanation of how they distorted the videos in question.

On Wednesday, Hawley and three other Republican senators sent a letter to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg noting that the incident violates the social network’s stated policy of certifying fact-checkers’ impartiality via the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), and calling for an external audit.

Later that day, Facebook and the IFCN pledged to investigate the situation, but has yet to unequivocally acknowledge and correct the error. In fact, the Health Feedback website that published the “fact-check” doubled down by adding more quotes and links by abortion advocates.

On Thursday, Hawley spoke to Perkins’ Washington Watch about the case and its ramifications.

Facebook “still hasn’t fully restored Live Action to complete good standing, they still haven’t notified all of the Live Action followers that their earlier censorship and their false rating was itself false, so Facebook needs to do more here and follow through,” he said, adding that the case demonstrates the need for the social network to accept a truly independent investigation. “They need to open their books, quit stonewalling, quit misdirecting, and quit asking us to trust them.”

That Facebook refuses to do so is “really telling,” Hawley continued. “They are willing to say ‘we made a mistake,’ promise to fix it,” but “when you say to them ‘OK, prove it, just open your books, submit to an outside audit,’ oh, they just shut down. And so, I think it shows you that they do have something to hide, that they don’t want to be accountable, that they don’t want to be transparent.”

“Think about the little churches, and think about the ministries that are getting discriminated against, that their voices are being silenced, that we never know about, and the thought that Facebook might be able to get away with it, this is why there has to be change,” Hawley argued, warning that such discrimination is particularly dangerous in light of Facebook’s leading role in how Americans consume information. 

“So the idea that they would be actively censoring, I mean pretty soon if we’re not careful we’re not gonna have access to the public square,” he warned. “We’re not gonna have access to our fellow Americans to talk and get our message out and exchange ideas.”

Live Action founder Lila Rose says the organization is currently working with medical experts to produce a point-by-point refutation of the “fact-check.”

This is only the latest instance of Facebook suppressing pro-life content. Other individuals and organizations to see ads rejected or posts censored include Save the Storks, the Susan B. Anthony List, the American Pregnancy Association, Choice For Two, Elizabeth “Activist Mommy” Johnston, and recent pro-life films about Kermit Gosnell and Roe v. Wade. Facebook also opted to block foreign pro-life ads in Ireland’s 2018 abortion referendum, despite Irish law not requiring such a ban, nor did Irish officials request one.

Facebook also recently removed a LifeSiteNews post linking an article that argued against subjecting young children to transgender hormone treatment, on the grounds that it supposedly violated the platform’s Community Standards against “hate speech.” The company even temporarily suspended (but later apologized to) LifeSiteNews digital marketing assistant Madeleine Jacob for posting the article.

In addition, multiple analyses have found that Facebook’s algorithm changes instituted at the beginning of 2018 disproportionately impacted conservative politicians and websites. Earlier this year, an insider revealed that Facebook “deboosts” traffic to several mainstream conservative sites.

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