US

Grassroots Campaign Protests Against Social Media Censorship

By Ilene Eng

MENLO PARK—Protestors stood in front of Hotel Nia in Menlo Park, where Facebook held its annual shareholder meeting on May 30. They voiced their concerns about social media censoring what they post, denying them their freedom of speech.

Bassad Pesci, a vocal protester, had his Facebook account suspended more than once.

“I was sharing about the Twitter screenshot of this event on Facebook yesterday and I got a 30-day ban. They went back 2 months ago to an ABC news story that I shared about illegals dragging their children underneath the fence through barbed wire and they said this is hate speech and they gave me a 30-day ban.

Bassad Pesci and protesters stood in front for Hotel Nia during a Facebook meeting to protest against Social Media Censorship on May 30, 2019. (Ilene Eng/NTD)

“What’s going down in America right now is right-leaning views, support of our president, support of our country, support of border control, is all being called hate speech.

“When they call views they don’t like hate speech, it means they want it cut out. We’re for the not censorship. Because people might say, this is hate speech. Trump used to do the ok hand sign. So Trump supporters start doing the ok hand sign. So then they start saying oh, this is white power, this is hate speech. I got a 30-day suspension for making this sign on Facebook.”

These are people at the grassroots level with conservative views and a wish to be heard. Pesci said they are not coerced, organized, or paid, and that their sole motivation for coming out comes from the heart.

“Our Founding Fathers said there can be no freedom of thought without freedom of speech. And they want to stop our freedom of thought but first they have to start nipping in the bud our freedom of speech,” said Pesci. “They hate our speech, and so they call it hate speech. But really it’s hated speech. They want to shut us down.”

Last year, two sisters had their Facebook account censored after they switched from the Democratic party to support Trump. They were told they were “unsafe to the community.”

Cali Mostoufi, another protester, drove from Sacramento to join the protest.

“I came from a country where I fled the country because of freedom of speech. And I don’t want to come back to America and have the same situation,” she said.

She posted topics related to free speech on her Twitter account. It had many followers.

“I’ve been censored on Twitter for a long time. So I think it’s really important that we speak out,” said Mostoufi. “They censor a lot of conservatives. They also censor liberals. So I think that censorship is across the board. If they’re willing to censor me, then they’re going to censor you.”

The protesters say they hope in the future, more people will value their right to free speech, and come out as well.

Recently, the White House launched a website to combat social media censorship. People whose accounts have been banned or suspended can submit a complaint related to political bias.