In a surprising move, Facebook has now taken down the SuperTalk Mississippi Facebook page. According to SuperTalk, the supposed violation occurred when the page shared news of an update from Governor Tate Reeves regarding new vaccine appointments.
Paul Gallo, host of SuperTalk’s Paul Gallo Show, stated in a tweet today, “Breaking! SuperTalk Facebook has been pulled for the reasons attached. Seems we committed a violation for sharing a story from the Governor’s office pertaining to expanded vaccines available for appointments.”
The move raises serious questions about Facebook’s community standards and its algorithm for determining potential violations. SuperTalk was distributing important news about vaccine appointment updates to the public. Now, the station that helps to provide news to the entire state, has been restricted from doing so.
This effort unfortunately censors SuperTalk for the time being from being able to distribute news on one of the largest online platforms. Furthermore, this move produces a dangerous potential chilling effect on speech. How many other news providers, influencers, or everyday Facebook users might think twice before a post in fear of similarly being shut down?
Multiple state officials spoke out against the move from Facebook. Governor Tate Reeves tweeted, “Unbelievable! Please fix quickly, @Facebook. Local news outlets like @SuperTalk are essential, and they should not be punished by big tech companies for simply sharing important vaccine information!”
Attorney General Lynn Fitch noted in a tweet, “Big tech is an elite, unelected, and unchecked group that should not have the power to silence and erase anyone. We don’t lose our First Amendment rights just because the town square has moved online.”
The move is likely to bring renewed scrutiny of the tech giant in Mississippi. Several bills in the Legislature address the growing issue of social media giants, like Facebook and Twitter, censoring speech. These include bills by Rep. Becky Currie (HB 151) and Sen. Angela Hill (SB 2617).
Hopefully SuperTalk’s page will be quickly restored and substantial actions will be taken to ensure this doesn’t happen again.