Facebook is trying to cover up the truth about Democratic vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris’ anti-gun record, according to a complaint filed by Gun Owners of America.
The crux of the complaint is that Facebook, which uses AFP Fact Check as one of its sources for its fact-checking operation, has labeled as false articles that provide the truth about the positions Harris has taken on the Second Amendment, the gun-rights group announced on its website.
By doing so, the social media giant has provided a service to Harris that violates campaign rules, the complaint alleges.
The complaint cites several provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act that it alleges were violated, including limitations on corporations making in-kind contributions and the prohibition against foreign nationals contributing to U.S. elections.
AFP, the complaint notes, is partially supported by the French government.
At issue are two articles Facebook said were false.
One, published Aug. 11 on the website Bearing Arms, was written by Cam Edwards and headlined “Kamala Harris Doesn’t Think You Have The Right To Own A Gun,” according to the complaint.
The article’s main theme was that in past court filings, Harris supported the interpretation of the Second Amendment that it provided a right of militia members to bear arms but opposed the broader right to bear arms that was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2008, the complaint said. It cited her amicus brief in that case, D.C. v. Heller.
The complaint said that when AFP fact-checked the article, it concluded that “although Harris supports gun safety laws, she says these can co-exist with the Second Amendment, and she is not against gun ownership.”
Noting that the “false” label impedes the ability of readers to see the article and that AFP Fact Check is connected to the French government, the complaint said, “Thus, Facebook has recruited an agent of a European government to control which messages about U.S. elections may be heard, and which should be suppressed.
“Based on its favored status within Facebook, AFP Fact Check has been given access to the Facebook site, along with the unilateral powers to declare information it opposes to be ‘False News’; to censor, diminish, or even remove opposing views that are posted on Facebook; and to superimpose AFP’s own version of the alleged ‘truth’ in its place,” it said.
The complaint said the AFP fact-checkers continued to muzzle opinions contrary to that of AFP.
The second article mentioned in the complaint was a piece by Rachel Malone, Texas director for Gun Owners of America, published Aug. 15 in the Houston Courant. It had a similar theme and was given similar treatment.
“Soon after it began appearing on Facebook, AFP Fact Check decreed that the Malone Article was ‘false news’ and began removing it from Facebook,” the complaint said. “However, rather than issue a specific rebuttal to the Malone Article, AFP Fact Check instead replaced the Malone Article with the AFP Fact Check Article criticizing the Edwards Article.”
“Complainant Crump posted the Malone Article on August 19, 2020, and it was marked by AFP Fact Check as ‘false news’ and overlaid with the AFP Fact Check Article supporting Kamala Harris,” the complaint said, a reference to John Crump, Virginia director for Gun Owners of America and a complainant in the lawsuit.
The complaint said Crump followed up on the Edwards article by asking Facebook, “I am writing in article for AmmoLand News and under deadline. The AFP have been marking accurate articles on firearms as false. For example any article the talks about Kamala Harris’s amicus brief in the Heller SCOTUS case is being marked as false, yet these articles are easily verifiable. This leads me to my question. Why does Facebook allow the AFP to keep marking articles as false when a quick Google search would turn up the amicus brief?”
The complaint notes that his account was later terminated.
What the complaint characterizes as blatant support of Harris’ campaign violates more than fairness, it said.
“Respondents Facebook and AFP Fact Check have provided valuable services to the political campaign of Vice Presidential candidate Kamala Harris,” the complaint said.
“When AFP Fact Check and Facebook substituted articles supportive of candidate Harris for those which were critical of her record, these corporations made public communications paid for with corporate funds,” it said. “Because Respondents are corporations, they are prohibited from providing this service to the campaign free of charge, or for less than they should normally charge. Therefore, these services constitute a prohibited corporate in-kind contribution to the Harris campaign.”
In an Oct. 6 piece in the Houston Courant, Crump wrote, “The social media platforms try to play both sides of the fence.”
“When someone posts something illegal, the company claims that they are just a ‘platform,’ so they are protected from civil and criminal penalties,” he said. “When they want to remove opinions they don’t like, Facebook claims that they moderate content like a publisher.
“It is time they either allow free speech or the government should strip Facebook of their Digital Millennium Copyright Act protections.”
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