Today U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg questioning the company’s suspension of advertising privileges for pro-life groups, including Susan B. Anthony List and Missouri-based Choose Life Marketing. The Susan B. Anthony List ads were rejected from Facebook on the basis of a draft "fact check" from the anti-Trump news site The Dispatch, while Choose Life Marketing had its ad distribution privileges abruptly suspended with no policy explanation from Facebook.
Senator Hawley wrote, "Facebook’s censors have apparently been busy this week. Your company’s decision to restrict the spread of a story reporting on corruption allegations surrounding Hunter Biden is now a matter of national news and the subject of congressional inquiries. That makes it all the more inexplicable—or, perhaps, all the more frustratingly predictable—that Facebook would choose this same week to target pro-life content on its platform."
This week Senator Hawley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism, called on Facebook and Twitter CEOs to testify on potential violations of federal election law in their censorship of the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden.
Read the full letter here or below.
October 16, 2020
Chief Executive Officer
1 Hacker Way
Menlo Park, CA 94025
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg:
Facebook’s censors have apparently been busy this week. Your company’s decision to restrict the spread of a story reporting on corruption allegations surrounding Hunter Biden is now a matter of national news and the subject of congressional inquiries. That makes it all the more inexplicable—or, perhaps, all the more frustratingly predictable—that Facebook would choose this same week to target pro-life content on its platform.
First, Choose Life Marketing—a Missouri-based advertising agency doing business with crisis pregnancy centers throughout the country—saw its ad distribution privileges abruptly suspended, without any explanation for what Facebook policy had allegedly been violated. When Choose Life Marketing sought to appeal that decision, they were informed that it might take “weeks” before Facebook could provide an explanation. Given the centrality of online advertising to businesses trying to make ends meet during the pandemic, Facebook’s insouciance is unacceptable: a weeks-long blackout risks having a crippling impact on both Choose Life Marketing and its clients.
Second, the Susan B. Anthony List—one of the nation’s most prominent pro-life groups—had its ads rejected by Facebook on the basis of a draft “fact check” from the anti-Trump news site The Dispatch. These ads described Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as supporting abortion up until the moment of birth, at taxpayer expense. But the draft “fact check” used to “discredit” the ads acknowledged that “Biden’s views on abortion have evolved throughout the years,” culminating in a 2012 denial of any governmental “right to tell other people that . . . they can’t control their body,” and that Harris backed legislation that would “remove state restrictions on abortions.” Additionally, the “fact check” observed that both Biden and Harris support repealing the Hyde Amendment, which presently bars federal funding for abortions. The Susan B. Anthony List ads, in other words, are not false—as The Dispatch itself noted when it backtracked on its own “fact check.” Voters may disagree about the specific implications of Biden and Harris’s remarks on abortion—but Facebook has no business intervening in that political debate by privileging one interpretation over others.
All of this, no doubt, is part of an increasingly troubling pattern: it has become abundantly clear that Facebook is targeting voices that dissent from the national media’s progressive consensus. Suppressing distribution of the New York Post’s reporting on the Hunter Biden corruption allegations, it appears, was just the beginning.
I look forward to learning more from you in the coming weeks, when you are under oath in a congressional hearing, about how these advertising takedown decisions were made.
United States Senator