The issue of social media’s role in American democracy (and society around the world) is continuing to rage. A Maryland artist named Kate Kretz has been completely banned from Facebook after using the platform to display the creations she made from knock-off Trump hats, which she recreated into symbols of hate like a recent Nazi armband. Her ban comes in the same week that the platform has made and continued to stand by a controversial decision to let a doctored video remain on the site of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who appears drunk or at least struggling to speak in the edit.
The Kretz case began when in recent weeks, she posted an image of the armband creation to her Facebook account. As she explained it:
‘I read a lot about people who are wearing these hats, and they say that they’re harmless, they’re innocuous, and this series is a way of calling them out.’
The platform removed the armband image within about five days, claiming that it violated “community standards.” Soon after, she both appealed the platform’s original decision to remove the image and posted an altered version, this time with the text included in the image that it’s “not hate speech” but instead, “an art piece addressing hate speech.” Two days after that second post, no matter Kretz’s efforts, she found that her entire account had been disabled.
As of May 23, the company had yet to respond to an appeal Kretz filed challenging her account’s suspension, and they’d also at least initially ignored requests for comment from a local CBS affiliate that reported on her story.
Around the same time, however, Facebook had plenty of time to send a representative on national television to defend their decision to keep the doctored anti-Pelosi videos up. On Anderson Cooper’s show on CNN, Facebook’s head of global policy management Monika Bickert justified her employer’s decision to the host by noting that anyone who encounters the video on the platform will now be notified that it’s false, but even that step only came after more than a day of it spreading and the footage remains accessible on the platform all the same.
Twitter similarly chose in the initial days following the videos’ emergence to keep them up on the site where figures as high-profile as presidential lawyer Rudy Giuliani promoted them, while YouTube scrubbed the doctored footage from its platform.
Every one of those major sites — and others, like Spotify and Apple Music — have taken some concrete steps against peddlers of lies in the past, banning figures like InfoWars’ Alex Jones. However, as the Pelosi video debacle indicates, outright lies continue to persist on the platforms, even as they claim to be committed to protecting the integrity of the public conversation — and as they go after figures like Kretz, who is not by any stretch of the imagination actually promoting hate speech but has been banned from the platform for weeks and counting all the same, despite her past reliance on it to connect with patrons of her artistry.
Featured Image via screenshot