Instagram Makes Free Speech Disappear

Company owned by Navy SEALs banned for criticizing NFL kneelers.

[To learn more about the Freedom Center's recent victory over the Left's censorship attempt, and its call for a coalition across party and ideological lines to defend free speech, click here.]

Project War Path, a clothing company owned by Navy SEALs and Army Special Forces combat veterans, Charlie Nash of Breitbart News reported Monday, “has been permanently suspended from Facebook’s Instagram platform for ‘hate speech’ after criticizing NFL players who kneel during the national anthem.

The post in question read, “This sums it up, Veteran’s defend our freedom and keep us safe. Meanwhile overpaid turds throw a leather ball around in an overpriced stadium and shit on all the men and women who have been killed defending our country.”

Project War Path co-owner Tej Gill, a Navy SEAL veteran, told Breibart “players kneeling really hits home with me and my teammates, I think it’s disgusting, an insult to all veterans, Americans, and especially families of veterans that have been killed and wounded during war.”

The same post on Twitter was not removed but Instagram took it down. As Gill explained to Breitbart, “I tried to reinstate my account, the form I filled out said my account was permanently suspended for hate speech. I have not heard anything back from Instagram since.”

Gill cited “a very aggressive censorship operation that is being conducted by Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and the mainstream media.” Instagram, as it happens is owned by Facebook, which purchased the upstart in 2012 and turned it into a profit center.

Not all Instagram devotees were aware of the acquisition and it troubled college student Jessica Leora, who told CBS News, “Because I’ve been hearing about Mark Zuckerberg and a lot of people are calling him a slimy weasel.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg might have provided evidence for that judgment in his congressional testimony last April.

Sen. Cory Gardner, Colorado Republican, asked Zuckerberg if the government had ever demanded that Facebook remove a page from the site. “Yes, I believe so,” Zuckerberg said, but he did not indicate the content of the page Facebook took down nor who, exactly, had made the demand.

Senator Ted Cruz asked Zuckerberg if Facebook is a neutral public forum. There was certain content they did not allow, hate speech, terrorist speech and so forth, the CEO said, but “our goal is not to engage in political speech.” Cruz mentioned bias and political censorship, suppression of stories on the IRS scandal, and a Trump support page that had been blocked. Zuckerberg said Silicon Valley was “an extremely left-leaning place,” so this was a “fair concern.”

Zuckerberg did not define “hate speech,” so any observer could believe that it’s anything that does not square with the “extremely left-leaning” interlocking directorate of Silicon Valley. The Facebook boss showed no evidence that he understands the basic concept of free speech and its vital role in American democracy. Likewise, the tech billionaire showed no inclination to defend anybody’s right to make a statement with which he might disagree or find distasteful.

After Sen. Cory Booker mentioned Black Lives Matter, Zuckerberg said it was a “good idea” to allow “civil rights organizations” to play an auditing role in what speech Facebook allows. And the Facebook boss was also cooperating with Robert Mueller’s probe. “We are working with them,” Zuckerberg said.

True to form, as Breitbart noted, Instagram has suspended conservatives such as Tommy Robinson, author Lauren Southern and the comedy group Toughen Up America. Project War Path now joins the ranks of the suspended but the aggressive censorship campaign goes beyond social media.

Last week WorldPay, which handles online donations, told the David Horowitz Freedom Center that Mastercard would no longer complete transactions because the leftist Southern Poverty Law Center and Color of Change.org. labeled the Center a “hate group.” This bogus claim from discredited leftist groups effectively blocked the Center’s fundraising, a clear attempt to suffocate free speech.

Breitbart, the Daily Caller, Newsmax and other organizations picked up the story and backed up the Center. Within days, WorldPay and MasterCard backed down and restored the online services and donations.

The Center won a major battle but as the “aggressive censorship operation” by the Facebook conglomerate confirms, the war carries on.  More than ever, we need a Congressional investigation of the war the left has launched on our freedom to dissent and disagree.

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