Facebook reportedly met with anti-LGBTQ hate groups to consult on its content moderation policies.
The social media giant “privately sought the advice” of Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, which is generously described by the Wall Street Journal as a “conservative Christian public-policy group.”
The Journal reports the D.C.-based lobby organization is among “hundreds of groups” consulted by Facebook in recent months as it attempts to strike a balance in moderating “offensive” speech on its platform. “A growing number of [those groups] lean to the right,” the newspaper claims.
Family Research Council, though, is interested in more than mere “public policy.” It has spent decades fighting equal treatment for queer and trans people.
Founded in 1981 by James Dobson, Family Research Council fought against the decriminalization of homosexuality. In the landmark 2003 Supreme Court case Lawrence v. Texas, the organization filed an amicus brief arguing that same-sex intercourse is “deviate” and homosexuality is not a “fundamental right.”
Family Research Council lost that case. As of last year, Perkins lamented that the ruling, which struck down anti-sodomy laws in all 50 states, was a “mistake.”
In the more than 15 years since Lawrence v. Texas, Perkins has remained one of the loudest voices on the right opposing equality. He has advocated for conversion therapy, claimed homosexuality is linked to pedophilia, likened LGBTQ rights advocates to terrorists, and called the It Gets Better campaign “disgusting.”
An advisor to President Trump, Perkins is widely believed to have been a driving force behind his policy banning trans troops from serving openly in the military. He has called trans inclusion in the armed forces “social experimentation.”
Perkins, though, took issue with the Journal’s claim that he served as a consultant on Facebook’s hate speech policies. In an interview with the cable news show Fox and Friends, the 55-year-old said he was “surprised” by the report, alleging that he’s only had “one conversation” with the platform.
Nonetheless, Perkins concluded Facebook does “have a problem.” He accused the world’s largest social media company of “censoring conservative speech and the free flow of conservative ideas online.”
“[W]e just saw the recent example of this a couple weeks ago during Christmas where my friend, Franklin Graham, had a two-year-old post removed for a 24-hour period,” he said. “They said it was an accident. And one of the things I communicated was that, you know, these accidents appear more and more frequently.”
As INTO previously reported, Facebook apologized to Graham after temporarily blocking him for a post about North Carolina’s House Bill 2.
In response to Bruce Springsteen canceling a scheduled concert over the since-repealed anti-trans “bathroom bill,” the evangelical preacher and son of Billy Graham referred to the movement for LGBTQ rights as “godless secularism and political correctness.”
“[W]e need to go back!” he said. “Back to God. Back to respecting and honoring His commands. Back to common sense.”
After Graham called the temporary ban a “personal attack” in a Fox News interview, Facebook reinstated the post and claimed it had “made a mistake.” The company wrote: “We want to apologize and let you know that we’ve restored your content and removed any blocks on your account related to this incorrect action.”
While the platform of 2 billion users has been kowtowing to conservative lobbyists, it’s begun cracking down on LGBTQ people. Since October, it has banned users from discussing “sexual preference” or “sexual roles.”
But Facebook isn’t the only tech firm that has been negotiating with right-wing groups, according to the Journal.
“Twitter’s Chief Executive Jack Dorsey recently hosted dinners with conservatives, including Grover Norquist, the founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform, which advocates for lower taxes,” the outlet reports.
Twitter recently unveiled new hate speech policies banning users from misgendering or deadnaming trans people.
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