New York Gubernatorial Candidate Larry Sharpe is the latest target of Facebook’s political censorship and election meddling.
The incident occurred on the eve of the 2018 Midterm Elections where Sharpe is a candidate for Governor of New York on the Libertarian Party ticket. Facebook suspended their ability to purchase social media ads for the New York race the day before voters went to the polls.
Campaign volunteer Kari Bittner who helps run Sharpe’s official (and verified) campaign page Larry Sharpe for New York posted the following screenshot to her personal Facebook page:
Bittner wrote on Facebook:
“36 hours before voting starts, Facebook decides to completely disable advertising for Larry Sharpe’s campaign account: Larry Sharpe for New York.
If you know anyone at Facebook, have them get in touch with me NOW. We have spent a SIZEABLE amount of money with Facebook and we have the strongest social media by far in this race.
This is hitting far below the belt and it’s disgusting. Facebook, call me.”
The Libertarian Republic contributor Gary Doan reached out to Larry Sharpe for comment. Sharpe’s response was cynical.
Sharpe’s cynicism mirrors a growing frustration of censorship seemingly targeted at the Libertarian demographic.
Former US Senate candidate Austin Petersen was suspended twice on Facebook for posting about a gun giveaway taking place on his campaign website (not Facebook) and once on Twitter for posting a GIF of Stalin from Twitter’s own GIF Library.
Much more recently, Facebook and Twitter coordinated a takedown of independent media sites with a Libertarian following such as The Anti Media and The Free Thought Project.
The whoops factor consistently happening to the same demographic is getting old, and Libertarians are calling it as they see it, and rightfully so.
Facebook does not have a real time line of support for pages, and the automated dispute resolution can be lengthy. Sometimes, the best way of reaching Facebook is to contact their press team for comment.
The Libertarian Republic did just that. On the day before the Midterms when the ad buy suspension was in place, we sent their press team an inquiry for comment at 12:41pm EST and received a reply at 2:39pm EST. In between that time, Larry Sharpe’s ability to buy ads was restored.
Facebook Press Team member Andy Stone replied to our request for comment:
“Thanks for reaching out.
I can confirm that the account was flagged for unusual activity and that it has now been reactivated.”
Stone declined to comment on what was unusual about a New York Gubernatorial Candidate buying ads in the state of New York for his own campaign.