Worst Censorship of April: Are Meta Platforms Stepping Up Censorship?

May 8th, 2024 12:24 PM

Spring was in the air and snow melting in April, but Big Tech platforms — especially Meta’s — continued to freeze free speech.

Utilizing its unique CensorTrack.org database, which has logged 6,745 cases as of publication, MRC Free Speech America tracked censorship across multiple platforms in April. Meta platforms Facebook and Instagram seemed particularly determined to suppress free speech, targeting content that included an anti-communist meme and criticism of President Joe Biden’s border crisis. Google-owned YouTube, meanwhile, continued its election interference by censoring a high-profile Independent presidential candidate. 

And while Meta’s censorship only made up 9 out of a total of 28 cases in April, the Zuckerberg-led platforms’ speech suppression packed more of a punch. 

Below are the worst cases of censorship from April.

Humorless Meta targets memes. Both Facebook and Instagram censored satirical memes this past month. Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), a “pro-liberty organization on America's college campuses,” posted a meme on Facebook of horses standing under an immense table and chairs in a field with the caption, “This farm owner was denied a council permit to build a horse shelter. Fortunately, you don't need a permit to build a table and chairs.” YAL commented, “What a nice table.” Facebook slapped a fact-check label on the post calling it “partly false” and linked to articles from Check Your Fact and Lead Stories. Reportedly, the German farmer wasn’t denied a permit but did build the table shelter to avoid regulations. 

Instagram, meanwhile, put a sensitive content filter on an Atlas Society post of a meme showing Care Bears with the caption, “What communists think they do.” The next image was of a firing squad with text saying, “What they actually do.” Instagram asserted the meme “may contain graphic or violent content," and required users to click through in order to view the meme. Facebook has found that users fail to click through similar interstitials 95 percent of the time.

Instagram attempts to restrict followers of an account critical of LGBTQ ideology. On April 17, 2023, users started sharingscreenshots of an Instagram notice that popped up when users tried to follow Libs of TikTok. “Are you sure you want to follow libsoftiktokofficial? This account has repeatedly posted false information that was reviewed by independent fact-checkers or went against our Community Guidelines,” the notice read. The notice disappeared by April 18, and no clarification was offered on the platform’s reasoning.

Google-owned YouTube censors one of President Joe Biden’s opponents. YouTube imposed a fact-checking label on a video of Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s appearance on Chris Cuomo's NewsNation show. Kennedy aimed to “clarify [his] position on January 6” during the appearance. YouTube slapped a context label on the video with a link to the Wikipedia page for the events at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. The label asserted, “On Jan. 6, 2021, the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., was attacked by a mob of supporters of then-U.S. president Donald Trump, two months after his defeat in the 2020 presidential election.”

Facebook disabled the account of a show host for criticizing radical Islamic terrorists. Daniel Greenfield, a journalism fellow for FrontPage Magazine’s David Horowitz Freedom Center, declared on April 15 that Facebook had disabled FrontPage Editor Jamie Glazov’s account as of April 4 for discussing Islamic terrorism. Facebook reportedly objected to a “Glazov Gang” interview headlined  “Oct. 7 Coming to the USA?” The platform alleged that the interview, which discussed terrorists crossing into America through the open southern border, violated its “community standards” and threatened “the security of people on Facebook,” according to Greenfield. Glazov’s account appears to have been restored by Facebook.

Instagram censors critique of IRS for no clear reason. The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) posted an image of a Hanna Cox tweet on its Instagram page, stating, “There are 724 billionaires in the US and 87,000 new IRS agents. They're not going after the rich, cupcakes. They're coming for you.” Instagram then imposed a “Missing Context” label on FEE’s post, asserting, “The same information was reviewed by independent fact-checkers in another post.” Clicking on the warning, though, only brought up the message, “This information is not available.”