Social media and the internet used to be a pure distillation of un-throttled freedom and expression. The First Amendment was king and things were mysterious. People that with all probability used to make fun of “computer nerds” back in the day now spend countless hours scrolling through social media looking for cat memes and other really time-wasting things. That internet is nearly gone, or at least pushed further to the fringes. It seems that everywhere people that don’t subscribe to “the narrative” are bound to be censored. So please hold my hand while I tear up for Facebook’s finger wagging cease and desist sent to the LAPD.
It’s been reported that the Los Angeles Police Department, another institution that should be getting rave reviews, has been creating fake social media accounts in order to conduct surveillance on people. In the letter, Meta, the new name for Facebook – which strikingly would spell out “Make Everything Trump Again” if it were an acronym, scolded the department for breaking their polices and rules.
From the letter:
According to the Brennan Center for Justice and media reports the Los Angeles Police
Department (“LAPD”) has been instructing its officers to create fake (or “dummy”)
Facebook accounts and impersonate legitimate users. Not only do LAPD instructional
documents use Facebook as an explicit example in advising officers to set up fake social
media accounts, but documents also indicate that LAPD policies simply allow officers to
create fake accounts for “online investigative activity.” To the extent these practices are ongoing they violate our terms of service. While the legitimacy of such policies may be up
to the LAPD, officers must abide by Facebook’s policies when creating accounts on our
services. The Police Department should cease all activities on Facebook that involve the
use of fake accounts, impersonation of others, and collection of data for surveillance
Shame, shame, shame on you LAPD! As if that’s not enough, here, hold my beer, this letter gets good. Readers of Bearing Arms, ya might want to brace for impact and prepare yourself to read this section more than once.
We believe strongly in the principle of free expression and strive to create an environment where people can act on their freedoms. People on our platforms speak their minds, connect with others to promote common causes, share their personal experiences, and organize First Amendment protected activities. It is our intention that they do so in a space that is free from unlawful surveillance by the government or agents acting in inauthentic ways.
All of a sudden Facebook cares about free expression? A place where people can act on their freedoms? Seriously? It was not too many months ago when several friends of mine were being labeled as extremists. Can we lovers of freedom take a collective deep breath in and sigh a sigh over Facebook’s statements? I highly doubt this letter actually means what it says (to us) and that the Make Everything Trump Again company finally “gets us.” No, freedoms and expression are only good for them when it’s convenient. What exactly are those circumstances?
From a statement published in the Guardian:
“There’s no excuse for LAPD not to have known this,” said Rachel Levinson-Waldman, a deputy director at the Brennan Center, adding that she hoped Facebook’s letter to the LAPD would serve as a warning to other police departments and software companies that law enforcement cannot conduct surveillance or undercover operations on Facebook’s platforms.
“This is really important to help ensure the protection of activists for racial justice and social justice,” she said, noting that these kinds of social media surveillance programs disproportionately affect organizers of color. “These are basic civil rights protections of not having police officers or detectives infiltrate groups undercover online in a way that can be really hard to unearth.”
“These kinds of social media surveillance programs disproportionately affect organizers of color” and conservatives, and gun owners, and Second Amendment supporters, and anyone that thinks slightly different than the narrative we’re being fed.
While we’re on the subject of Facebook’s polices, what about all the strange advertisements that people have found selling “fuel filters” or “solvent traps” or “auto sears”? Yeah, it’s been reported several times that Facebook allows the advertising of items easily convertible to suppressors or can be used to convert semi-automatics to fully-automatic. I’ve personally seen such content as well as several others I associate with, whom may or may not have gotten the “extremist content” label way back when.
Want to catch up on the subject of these suspect advertisements?
One The Truth About Guns article covered this topic last year.
We all know how Facebook aggressively and promptly kills off posts that promote gun sales on their platform. That’s even extended to gun reviews and posts about Medal of Honor recipients that they have sometimes interpreted as promotions. So it seems a little suspicious that they not only allow dubious posts selling “fuel filters,” but they place them into gun owners’ news feeds.
It doesn’t seem like a stretch that Facebook would cooperate with the ATF to target gun owners who don’t know any better. Or those trying to acquire things they aren’t licensed to have. After all, Facebook’s business model involves selling targeted advertising thanks to all the personal information they collect on each of their users.
Then again, maybe labeling these as “car fuel filters” is enough to get around Facebook’s anti-gun algorithms. And the typical pasty-faced Facebook drone who might have actually reviewed this manually probably wouldn’t recognize these for what they really are.
Or, if you rather getup to speed via video, check out one which can be viewed HERE or at the bottom of this article where it’s embedded (language warning in the video).
Don’t think this filter scam advertising is not a big deal? Consider this situation that involved a man getting caught selling such goods through a sting operation:
In Maryland, a U.S. District Judge sentenced Ronnie Candelario to 41 months in prison for pleadings guilty to the possession of an unregistered fuel filter silencer. Following his release from prison, the Court sentenced Candelario to three years of supervised release.
The ATF caught Candelario by using an anonymous man to purchase the firearms in a gas station parking lot. This agent purchased six rifles, as well as two fuel filter silencers.
The agent told Candelario that the firearms he was purchasing were for resale in New York. Candelario told the agent he was manufacturing all of the guns and silencers he sold.
There was another case, as reported in AmmoLand, involving a man from New Jersey that got caught up in a similar situation buying “fuel filters” off the internet. However, in this case, the man legitimately thought he was purchasing fuel filters.
New Jersey resident Mathew Moran tried to do the right thing.
Moran ordered “fuel filters” from an advertisement on Instagram. When the package arrived from China, it had two items that looked more like silencers to him than fuel filters.
Moran went to a friend at NAPA Auto Parts who explained to him that these items were not actually fuel filters, that he knew others who had mistakenly ordered them, and that he should get rid of them.
The next day, Moran voluntarily surrendered these “fuel filters” to the Carlstadt Police Department.
While voluntarily surrendering these items, Moran told the Carlstadt detective that he had made two purchases of which he received only one and that he was canceling the second order.
To his surprise, approximately 10 days later, a second package still arrived at his home. He immediately put the box in his car and drove directly to the police station to voluntarily surrender it, as he had done with the first purchase.
After parking at the borough hall, he proceeded to walk up to the police department located there. Before entering the building, however, a cadre of Federal and State Government agents stopped and arrested him.
Given these situations, and the fact that Facebook had no issue with such advertisements to proliferate, excuse me while I don’t lament the woes of Facebook in dealing with the LAPD. Clearly Facebook either turned a blind eye to the practice, since it would more than likely foul up right of center gun owners, or they themselves were in on it too.
The crocodile tears from anyone talking about suppression of First Amendment rights in the digital world needs to spend a month pretending to be a conservative, or libertarian, or just someone that likes guns. After dealing with how all the large social media platforms have treated conservatives with the suppression, de-platforming, or mysterious deletion of followers, I think Facebook aught to re-read their letter to the LAPD and start implementing their own polices when it comes to views that are different from their own:
We believe strongly in the principle of free expression and strive to create an environment where people can act on their freedoms. People on our platforms speak their minds, connect with others to promote common causes, share their
personal experiences, and organize First Amendment protected activities.
Right. I’ll hold my breath while Make Everything Trump Again starts to accept #mypeople.
Find below the linked video discussing the fuel filter ads on Facebook or by clicking HERE (there are some potty words, be warned):
Author’s Note: After the publication of this article I had the chance to chat with Bill Frady on his Lock N’ Load Radio show about this article in the last segment. Take a listen HERE.