Popular conservative Fox News commentator Todd Starnes (shown) was banned for a short while by Facebook June 28 and 29 after he posted content the social media site's administrators said violated its community standards. The posting on his Facebook fan page that supposedly earned Starnes a 12-hour sit in the website's penalty box read: “I’m about as politically incorrect as you can get. I’m wearing an NRA ball cap, eating a Chick-fil-A sandwich, reading a Paula Deen cookbook and sipping a 20-ounce sweet tea while sitting in my Cracker Barrel rocking chair with the Gaither Vocal Band singing ‘Jesus Saves’ on the stereo and a Gideon’s Bible in my pocket. Yes sir, I’m politically incorrect and happy as a June bug.”
The Facebook police responded by removing the post and temporarily locking up important features on Starnes' fan page, explaining to him: “We removed this from Facebook because it violates our Community Standards. So you’re temporarily blocked from using this feature.” Starnes noted that he was even banned from posting a daily Bible verse he offers on his Facebook page, a popular feature accessed by thousands of fans.
On his daily Fox commentary site, Starnes wrote, “For the record, I really do have a Cracker Barrel rocking chair, I’m quite fond of sweet tea, I love Chick-fil-A, I’m a huge fan of Southern Gospel music, I own several Paula Deen cookbooks, and I’m a proud member of the National Rifle Association.”
Starnes said that Facebook's perplexing decision to freeze his account prompted him to check out the site's actual “Community Standards,” where he discovered that “among the 'Thou Shalt Nots' were bans on nudity, bullying, harassment, graphic content, pornography, and spam.” Starnes said that to his knowledge he was not guilty of any of the offenses. “I do admit my Facebook page had some spam, though,” he noted. “In my defense, it was a great recipe for a fried spam sandwich (quite tasty I might add).”
What was even more puzzling, noted Starnes, were some of the “vulgar, violent, and pornographic” sites Facebook allowed. Among the Facebook pages Starnes ran across, were “F*** Conservatives,” “Tea Party Can Kiss My A**,” and “Rush Limbaugh is an Abject A******.”
Wrote Starnes: “I suspect had I been reading Saul Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals, wearing a Planned Parenthood ball cap, smoking a joint, and sporting butt-less leather chaps, Facebook would’ve left me alone.”
Following a public outcry from Starnes' fans, however, Facebook did an about-face, un-freezing his Facebook page with the claim that the attack was all an accident. “A member of our team accidentally removed something you posted on Facebook,” read a statement from Facebook. “This was a mistake, and we sincerely apologize for this error.”
Starnes recalled that last year Amazon suspended the online sale of his best-selling book Dispatches From Bitter America, subtitled, A Gun Toting, Chicken Eating Son of a Baptist's Culture War Stories. “Amazon refused to say why they temporarily banned the book,” wrote Starnes, “but it had come under attack by liberal activists who flooded the site with bad reviews.”
The Fox journalist said that he is not the first conservative targeted by Facebook. Last year, the popular “Chicks on the Right” fan page was unceremoniously blocked after its owners posted a comment critical of the White House. It took an outcry from some of that page's 168,000 fans before Facebook reversed its arbitrary decision.