Leave it to U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Florida to lay the law down to Facebook.
After Gaetz called Facebook out on a page that posted incitements to violence and implied death threats, the company took it down.
According to The Hill, during a hearing Tuesday with representatives from Facebook, Twitter and Google, Gaetz asked Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert why the social media giant hasn’t removed the page, “Milkshakes against the Republican Party,” for its calls to violence against Republicans.
Republicans have long argued Facebook is biased against conservative content. Tuesday’s hearing was the second on the subject.
“Do you remember the shooting at the Republican baseball game? One of those should happen every week,” one post read, referring to the attempted assassination of GOP members, which almost killed Rep. Steve Scalise of Alabama. Bickert read the post back to Gaetz at the hearing.
Another post called for “crazed shooters” to target Republicans at baseball practices, saying “if you really want to be remembered, that’s how you do it,” before referring to the National Rifle Association as a “terrorist organization.” (See a screenshot of the now-deleted post reproduced on this page.)
“I am glad Facebook swiftly removed this offensive page; while I unconditionally support the First Amendment, inciting violence against others due to their political affiliation is not Constitutionally-protected speech,” Gaetz said in a statement to The Hill. “While removing this page was a small step forward to making Facebook a safer place, bigger questions remain.”
Gaetz, an attorney and former Florida state representative, tried to explain the precarious position Facebook was in.
“This distinction is not merely academic, as they are governed by different laws and different rules,” he continued. “If Facebook claims to be a neutral forum, it cannot continue to limit conservative content; if Facebook claims to be a publisher, it will lose its legal ‘immunity’ under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
“They simply cannot have it both ways. My colleagues and I on the Judiciary Committee look forward to exploring this important distinction in the future.”