Hear Me Out

Censorship? You be the Judge…
By Joel E. Gordon

Is anything conservative, law enforcement-related, or pro-law enforcement in the process of being shut down on Facebook through new restrictive policies being implemented?

As a longtime Facebook member, Facebook recently offered me an unsolicited $10 credit to “boost” a post promoting my book Still Seeking Justice: One Officer’s Story from my Gordon for Sheriff 2020 Facebook page (in which I declare that I am a possible future Republican candidate for Preston County West Virginia Sheriff in the 2020 election cycle). I am the administrator for this page along with my personal page, a Still Seeking Justice – book page and for the Facebook group Police Authors Seeking Justice.”

I have successfully run ads like this before Facebook implemented their new rules and policies. However, now it seems as though Facebook giveth and Facebook has taketh away.

MY LATEST AD WAS DENIED
I immediately initiated an appeal and received this obviously automated Facebook response which reads, in part:
Here’s what’s preventing your ad from being approved:
The text and/or imagery you’re using is related to politics or an issue of national importance, based on the definition we’re using for enforcement. However, your Page is not authorized to run these types of ads.

Next: You must authorize your Page to run ads related to politics or an issue of national importance. To begin the authorization process, please visit your Page’s Settings. You can find more information here. Once you’re authorized to run these ads, choose the option to run this ad with the disclaimer you create in the Authorizations process.

The only problem, as part of the new multiple stage approval process for approval of posting these “ads of national importance,” Facebook requires verification of a US residential mailing address through utilization of what they are calling “trusted sources.” In all the years I have been on Facebook, my location of residence was never before questioned. As of this writing, I remain in dispute with Facebook, now over the validity of my US residential address which they refuse to validate.

A quick Google search would not only verify the existence of my home but the fact that I really do reside here. It is the address of record on both my valid West Virginia Driver’s License and my current Federal Communications Commission Amateur Radio License. Even the Google car found my home a few years back photographing my property for inclusion on Google maps!

Worse, I keep getting the same automated response touting Facebook’s mandated approval process ignoring the issue of overcoming their unwillingness to recognize my address. Each time I continue the appeal process I receive a response categorizing the case as “closed.” Hence, my attempts to complete authorization to run ads related to my promotion with its law enforcement theme have been stymied, so far.

The new Facebook policy on paid boosts addresses topics deemed to be inclusive of “politics and issues of national importance.” Facebook now requires authorization and source labeling for ads “targeting the US” that include any of these “top-level issues”:

• abortion
• budget
• civil rights
• crime
• economy
• education
• energy
• environment
• foreign policy
• government reform
• guns
• health
• immigration
• infrastructure
• military
• poverty
• Social Security
• taxes
• terrorism
• values

Of course, I’m not the only one experiencing irregularities, especially it seems among those who could reasonably be labeled as conservative posters. One recent post from a well-known and respected law enforcement commentator and spokesperson stated that for some reason, settings and profile on his account had been changed rendering comments unable to be viewed by the poster. The changes were unauthorized and corrective steps are reportedly being looked into.

Interestingly, a man by the name of Joel Hernández is working toward a launch of a possible alternative to Facebook called OPENBOOK, a non-partisan platform intended to be a direct rival to Facebook. I am hoping that this or other social media platforms will show promise as we move forward. In the meantime, I will continue to utilize Facebook until such time as I find what I determine to be a better, less politically controlled alternative which will meet my needs.

Perhaps we should all be on the lookout for better social media platforms. Let’s do our part to promote our contributions toward a better world with a free exchange of ideas and less restricted dialogue. We must not allow ourselves to be silenced.

Joel E. Gordon is a former Field Training Officer with the Baltimore City Police Department and is a former Chief of Police for the city of Kingwood, West Virginia. He has also served as vice- chair of a regional narcotics task force. An award-winning journalist, he is the author of the book Still Seeking Justice: One Officer’s Story and founded the Facebook group Police Authors Seeking Justice. Look him up at stillseekingjustice.com