A Missouri Republican Senate candidate got temporarily banned from his Facebook page after promoting an AR-15 giveaway.
Austin Petersen, who was the runner-up for the 2016 Libertarian Party Presidential candidate, says his personal Facebook account was suspended after he hosted a livestream on his professional Facebook page.
“I was signed out of Facebook on all my devices,” Petersen told Reason. “When I signed back in, I received a message saying that my livestream had been the cause of me being banned for 30 days.”
“This was a livestream done on my professional public facing account,” he said, “but it was my personal account (Austin Wade) that got the ban.”
Petersen said that Facebook suggested that it was a mistake in the automatic filtering system. He is not so sure that’s the case. “[the filter] takes down videos almost instantaneously, while my video wasn’t taken down until 24 hours after it was created.”
In response, Petersen published an open letter to Mark Zuckerberg, co-founder and CEO of Facebook.
“In my campaign for the United States Senate, I have made Facebook a centerpiece of my outreach efforts,” he said. “I have used both my personal profile and my official page to connect with friends, family, and supporters, and to share and express our views about the future of the country.”
“That’s why, on September 22, I was so shocked to receive a notification from Facebook informing me that my personal account had been ‘blocked’ from using Facebook for thirty days because I ‘recently posted something that violates Facebook’s policies.”
“It’s difficult to ignore that this action comes during a period of heightened tension regarding Facebook’s role in our elections, and its perceived bias against conservative voices,” he continued. “Moreover, the fact that your Chief Operating Officer — Sheryl Sandberg — has ‘leaned into’ my election by donating the maximum allowable amount to my opponent does not inspire confidence in Facebook’s neutrality.”
“Blocking a candidate for the United States Senate for exercising support of the Second Amendment — especially when that candidate is challenging an incumbent favored by members of your board — is cause for concern and worthy of a larger conversation and a public explanation,” said Petersen.
Many have accused Facebook of suppressing conservative opinions, although the company routinely denies the practice. In the meantime, Petersen is leveraging his Twitter feed as well as his professional page to promote the AR-15 giveaway.