Several Facebook groups set up by pro-Trump Jews who immigrated to the US from Russia (the then Soviet Union) have been banned on the giant social network in recent days, just ahead of the presidential election.
A report originally published by Jewish News Syndicate (JSN) explained that the groups started to “methodically and surreptitiously” disappear from Facebook – and that out of the four, only two (Russian Speaking Americans for Trump 2020, that has 16,500 members, and Jews of the Silicon Valley and San Francisco, United! (with 18,600) have been reinstated, while the two others – Russian American Ashkenazi Jews (15,000) and Patriotic Jewish Republicans (8,400) – remain banned.
Censorship is hard on anyone who happens to be on the wrong end of it, but it’s particularly jarring to those who know it well – those raised in the former Soviet Union, who then became refugees, thinking they had found freedom of speech when they moved to the West.
“Denying them their right to free speech so close to this year’s most important election is both disconcerting and unacceptable,” said Svetlana Sorkin, a moderator for Russian American Ashkenazi Jews, one of the groups that remains banned.
The reasons Facebook has given for some of these bans is the usual, all-purpose “violation of community standards,” while in other cases articles from sources like the Jerusalem Post got flagged for review, JSN.org said.
Jewish Lives Matter: Jews for Trump founder and Jewish Republicans for Trump co-founder Ettie Kryksman explained that her groups are still up on the platform, but are constantly harassed by fact-checkers who are finding fault in what she says are legitimate posts, by declaring them to be false, “partially false,” or, most nebulously of all, as “missing information.”
Kryksman said one post flagged as “false” was that unfavorable to Joe Biden – it was showing him “in a parking lot campaigning to virtually no one.”
Could it be that Facebook’s hired fact-checking guns are now confusing “embarrassing” for “false”?
Russian American Ashkenazi Jews group’s moderator Eugene Luskin said that Jewish immigrants and refugees find it very important to be able to communicate, and that most have – like billions of others around the world – chosen Facebook as their platform.
But what that platform is now doing in terms of policing free speech is worrying. As Luskin warned: “The way it’s handled today is a slippery slope that will end up in the same place where we were born.”