A disabled American veteran has become one of the victims of Facebook’s political purge ahead of the mid-term elections. The online social-media platform announced October 11 that it had suspended more than 800 pages and accounts for what it claimed was “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and spamming, with many of the accounts hosting politically conservative content supportive of President Trump.
One of the most high-profile of those impacted by the purge is disabled Air Force veteran Brian Kolfage, who runs a number of Facebook pages, including one for Right Wing News and another for Military Grade Coffee, which were both deleted by Facebook for supposedly including “mis-information” in their posts. At the time of its suspension, Right Wing News claimed more than three million Facebook followers.
Kolfage, who lost both legs and his right hand during deployment to Iraq in 2004, took to his website, fight4freespeech.com, to battle what he termed social-media censorship. “I’m not a ‘conservative,’ I’m not a ‘liberal,’” wrote Kolfage in explaining his battle against Facebook. “I’m an American, with deep beliefs in what our country stands for. I proved this by vowing to protect and fighting for America’s greatest tenet: free speech. Many Americans have fought for these political freedoms — freedom of speech — and every American has enjoyed those freedoms — UNTIL TODAY. On October 11, 2018, Facebook shut down thousands of Facebook accounts for their political opinions, saying in effect that they don’t have a ‘legitimate political argument.’”
Kolfage charged Facebook with lying about why his sites were shut down, saying that “they shut down my [Right Wing News] page because it was conservative, powerful, and the elections are in 2 weeks.”
As reported by Breitbart, Kolfage said that Facebook suspended his pages after he had invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in advertising on Facebook. “My income as a father and husband is threatened,” he wrote. “This isn’t the right to free speech I gave my legs and arm to defend.... Facebook took down our Facebook page, cutting off all contact we had with the millions of people who signed up to follow us, the millions of people who liked what we were sharing online.”
He added that the page “had a coveted, verified blue check mark, 3.5 million fans, and I invested over $300,000 in ads at Facebook’s own request, nearly begging us to spend, spend, spend, just to reach our fans, whom they kept making more difficult to reach with every passing year.”
In addition to the Right Wing News page, Facebook also shut down a page through which Kolfage sold his own coffee brand, Military Grade Coffee. “We don’t post politics, we sell coffee and support veteran charities,” Kolfage wrote of the business. “Facebook is maliciously attacking my way of life because of my beliefs, and they don’t care. The New York Times even stated that Facebook made this calculated move to silence thousands of voices (and millions of forwarded messages) because of the upcoming midterm elections.”
Kolfage has vowed to aggressively battle Facebook’s attack against him and his livelihood. “If I have to roll into their headquarters and sit there with people in the media, I will,” Kolfage told Brietbart News. “I will be there exposing everything they’ve done to me and my family and our employees. We’re going to take legal action if we don’t get our pages back. It’s just going to turn into a sloppy mess for them. I think they’ve underestimated what they’re dealing with, attacking me, attacking conservatives in general, right before the elections.”
He added that “never once did Facebook come to us to say there was any issue with Right Wing News or our other pages. Never. But they sure loved taking our money.”
Image: screenshot from fight4freespeech.com