CENSORTRACK: Five Worst Times Big Tech Silenced Veteran Voices on Their Platforms

November 10th, 2023 5:28 PM

Veterans fought and gave their lives to preserve the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens. However, Big Tech is set on taking those rights away from the very people who fought to defend them. 

Over the years Big Tech has censored thousands of posts and has even violated the constitutional right to free speech of veterans and those honoring veterans. CensorTrack.org data has shown that LinkedIn, Twitter (now X), TikTok Facebook and financial tech platforms have silenced veterans who dared go against Biden’s leftist narrative on immigration and student loan pay-outs, labeled one veteran’s face as “sensitive content” and de-banked a veteran who supposedly caused a “reputational risk.” Censorship of legal speech is always a blow to freedom but it is particularly jarring when that freedom is taken away from those who fight to protect it. As Air Force veteran Gretchen Smith said after LinkedIn shamelessly censored her account, “Freedom of Speech has been secured by our blood, sweat and lives. This has got to stop.”

Included below are five of the worst times Big Tech censored veteran voices as documented by CensorTrack:

  • LinkedIn censored a veteran sharing her American Dream story. In 2022, LinkedIn restricted the account of Air Force veteran Gretchen Smith, who founded Code of Vets, a nonprofit that helps support veterans in need of prayers, mental health care, jobs, housing, food, etc. Smith shared part of her story on LinkedIn and Twitter in response to President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness program. “I am not responsible for your student debt. I grew up in poverty in NC. Ate from a garden, name was on community Angel tree for Christmas, bought clothes from yard sales & if I was lucky, on a rare occasion Sky City,” she tweeted. “I joined the Air Force then went to college. I made it happen.” LinkedIn suspended her account because her content supposedly violated the platform’s policy on “hate speech,” according to screenshots. “I am frustrated and disappointed,” she tweeted in response.
  • Twitter (now X) hid a veteran’s face behind a sensitive content interstitial. While serving in Afghanistan, retired U.S. Army Captain and Purple Heart recipient Sam Brown’s vehicle was struck by an IED blast that severely wounded his face and body. In 2021, Brown posted an image of himself saluting the flag in uniform with the words "Freedom isn't free" overlaying the picture. Twitter flagged the post as "sensitive content" and hid the image of his face behind an interstitial that users must click through to view the image. Brown responded to the censorship by noting the strange timing of it. "Hey @Twitter, I didn’t realize my face was 'sensitive content,'" tweeted Brown after realizing his tweet had been flagged by the platform. "Ironic considering I only have 3 tweets & just filed to run for U.S. Senate only hours ago. Was it my scars or the fact that I salute the flag? Regardless, neither are going away—and neither am I." The sensitive content filter remains over the post even as of the publication of this article. 
  • Facebook removed a veteran supporting post by Marine Corps. veteran Josh Mandel. On February 3, 2022 Ohio Republican U.S. Senate candidate and Marine Corp veteran Josh Mandel posted a graphic that read "Veterans Before Illegals," according to a screenshot Mandel posted on Twitter. He captioned his post with the words "Illegal immigrants should be deported – not supported with American tax dollars. There are thousands of veterans living under bridges and they must be our priority." Facebook removed the post seven weeks after Mandel posted the graphic because it "[went] against [its] standards on hate speech" and restricted Mandel's ability to post or comment for 24 hours.
  • TikTok permanently banned, then restored Retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West without warning or reason. In August 2022, retired Army Lt. Col. Allen West — the executive director of American Constitutional Rights Union, a member of MRC's Free Speech Alliance — shared a screenshot indicating that TikTok "permanently banned" his account due to “multiple violations of our Community Guidelines.” West said in his tweet that he's had a TikTok account for over a year, and his digital director told MRC Free Speech America that the account has never had any Community Guidelines violations. It is unclear if a specific post triggered the ban, but West said the suspension occurred after he shared a video about the FBI’s raid of former President Donald Trump’s home in Mar-a-Lago. TikTok did not respond to MRC Free Speech America’s request for comment at the time but the platform later restored West’s account. Even temporary bans however can have severe impacts on an account’s reach.
  • Chase bank canceled credit cards belonging to Gen. Michael Flynn over 'possible reputational risk’ and eventually admitted error: Former Trump administration national security advisor Gen. Michael Flynn — who was accused by the left of colluding with Russia but later pardoned — had his credit cards canceled by Chase Bank. "After careful consideration, we decided to close your credit cards on September 18, 2021 because continuing the relationship creates possible reputational risk to our company," Chase reportedly said in a notice to Gen. Flynn, which he posted on his Telegram account. "Chase Bank has gone full blown woke!" Gen. Flynn said about the bank's financial blacklisting. "They need to deal with their own reputation instead of persecuting my family and I." Multiple news outlets were initially stonewalled by Chase when reaching out for comment and clarification on the situation. However, a Chase Bank spokesperson did eventually get back with The Blaze and admitted in a statement that the company "made an error" and "apologized for any inconvenience this caused."

Other veterans who have been censored by Big Tech include: Dr. Theresa M. Long (U.S. Army), Former Democrat Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (Hawaii Army National Guard), Gov. Ron DeSantis (U.S. Navy), Former Senate candidate Sean Parnell (U.S. Army), Former Texas Congressman Ron Paul (Air Force), Washington Republican congressional candidate Joe Kent (Army Special Forces) and Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance (Marine Corp.).

Conservatives are under attack. Contact your representatives and demand that Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment while providing transparency, clarity on so-called hate speech and equal footing for conservatives. If you have been censored, contact us using CensorTrack’s contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.