The National Legal And Policy Center (NLPC) reports that Facebook prevented them from using paid promotion to extend the reach of a story critical of Black Lives Matter to a wider audience on the platform.
According to the NLPC, Facebook allowed them to promote a post about congressional corruption with no hindrance:
We posted another story titled “House Thwarts New Assault on Office of Congressional Ethics,” paying a small fee to boost its audience. This feature, which emphasized the efforts by Rep. Steven Pearce (R-New Mexico) to cut the budget of the office and featured his nondescript photo, boosted without a problem.
However, when the think tank attempted to do the same with a story that was critical of Black Lives Matter, a cause that has been personally endorsed and defended by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
That was not the case with the Jamar Clark feature, which built on NLPC’s extensive research on the Black Lives Matter movement. Less than 24 hours after we posted and boosted the Pearce article on Facebook, we attempted to post and boost the Clark article, early Monday evening. It would be the first of four different attempts to reach a large audience for that post on Facebook.
The articles would post, reaching only a handful of readers – but Facebook would not allow them to be boosted to thousands more of those readers who NLPC wanted to pay to reach.
According to the NLPC, Facebook initially tried to suggest that they had used too much text in their promotional image. So the NPLC changed the image, and tried again. Once more, they were rejected.
Our first effort to post included an unremarkable photo of a standoff between protesters over Jamar Clark’s death and Minneapolis police. The effort to boost that post remained stuck in an endless “In Review” queue (Facebook always must pre-approve posts and ads, which usually only takes no more than 10 to 15 minutes). So the following day we gave up, deleted the post, and tried again to post and boost using a Black Lives Matter protest photo we have used several times previously, without a problem from Facebook. This version never implemented the boost either, with a notification that there was “too much text” in the photo (from the protester’s sign).
We are aware of Facebook’s advertising policies, which include restrictions on mature themes, explicit material, and limitations on text in images. So mid-week we tried again, deleted the second post, and posted yet another version that featured a couple of Minneapolis police officers in riot gear, but who were not involved in any action or engagement with protesters. The photo did not show any weapons either. But again Facebook placed the boost of the post in its “in review” black hole, without rendering a decision.
Finally, early Thursday morning, we deleted the third post and tried to re-post and boost again with uncontroversial headshot photos of the Minneapolis officers involved in the Jamar Clark incident. This fourth attempt has also been met with Facebook’s stonewalling “in review” silence.
The NLPC then attempted to boost the story currently being quoted, i.e the one about Facebook censoring their Black Lives Matter report. That was successful. Yet the Black Lives Matter post remains un-boosted. Another dubious incident in Facebook’s increasingly dire record of interactions with conservatives.