Facebook has restricted the distribution of the page belonging to conservative talk show host Mark Levin for “repeated sharing of false news,” according to a notice from the largest social media giant Levin shared on his account on Parler.
Levin, a staunch defender of President Donald Trump and a fierce critic of the mainstream media, denies that he’s misled anyone and accused Facebook of “censorship” and “pushing a left-wing agenda.”
“Every link I post is from a legitimate source,” Levin wrote on Parler, a social media site favored by conservatives. “But because so many people are seeing what I’m posting and we’re within weeks of the election, it’s clear that Facebook is trying to influence the election’s outcome.”
It wasn’t clear which posts Facebook found objectionable. The official Facebook page for The Mark Levin Show has more than 1.5 million followers and more than 1.5 million likes. Levin has the fourth-largest audience in talk radio, according to Talker’s magazine. He also hosts Life, Liberty, and Levin on Fox
“Mark Levin is an important thought leader with broad influence and wide reach,” said Parler CEO John Matze in a press release. “Millions of Americans look to him for news and analysis. Whether one agrees with him or not, it is important that Mr. Levin’s voice be heard. Those who disagree with him should debate him and refute his arguments, not try to silence him.”
An email seeking comment from Levin via his syndicator Westwood One wasn’t answered.
Facebook came under fire in 2016 to prevent Russian hackers and other bad actors from using the site to influence the outcome of the election. As a result, Facebook partnered with independent fact-checking organizations to uncover misinformation. Once a post is flagged, Facebook takes action against users ranging from warning users who try to share it to losing their ability to monetize their content for a specific period. The company has come under fire in the press for pressuring fact-checkers to change their ratings.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg has argued private companies shouldn’t be an “arbiter of truth” and criticized Twitter for putting warning labels on Trump Tweets, which made claims about the risks of voting by mail.
However, Facebook did remove a Trump Tweet earlier today that falsely claimed that COVID-19 was less deadly than the flu “in most populations” for violating the company’s rule against harmful misinformation.
Conservatives such as Levin and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have long argued that Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms are biased. They have called for the repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects them against lawsuits over the content posted on their sites. The Texas Republican recently claimed that the high tech industry “poses the single biggest threat to our free speech and our democracy.
Countering the bias claims is challenging, given the opaque way which Facebook operates.
According to NPR, there is no statistical evidence showing a conservative bias on Facebook. In fact, “conservative news regularly ranks among some of the most popular content on the site.”
A spokesperson for Facebook didn’t respond to an email seeking comment for this story.