The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

"Facebook Prevents Sharing New York Post Story on Black Lives Matter Founder Patrisse Cullors' Real Estate"


Newsweek (Daniel Villarreal) reports:

The article mentioned that Cullors had purchased "four high-end homes for $3.2 million" in the United States. It also said that she was seeking real estate in the Bahamas. It contrasted the purchases with Cullors' self-identification as a Marxist as well as criticisms from others about the alleged lack of financial transparency from the national BLM organization.

When Newsweek reporters attempted to post a link to the Post's story, the action couldn't be completed. The following message also appeared: "Your post couldn't be shared, because this link goes against our Community Standards. If you think this doesn't go against our Community Standards let us know."

Facebook spokesperson told Newsweek, "This content was removed for violating our privacy and personal information policy." The policy forbids articles that share details that could identify a person's financial and residential information, thus violating their privacy rights.

The N.Y. Post article strikes me as pretty similar to other articles that the media writes about prominent people; it doesn't, for instance, mention a specific address, though it includes photos. The article also reports that all its information was drawn from public records.

Of course, Facebook isn't bound by the First Amendment, and is legally free to block whatever posts it wants on its site. Still, I think it's helpful to understand just how broadly Big Tech companies have started restricting such speech, and how much of an influence they will potentially be able to wield in future debates (and future elections).