Tim from Sylvania, OH writes:
Is Facebook censoring my comments on hot-button topics? I comment a lot on political topics on pages and I’ve noticed that some of my recent comments are grayed out and I can’t edit them. I’ll admit they are vitriolic, I was pretty excited over many recent developments. Am I being censored? What about my First Amendment rights?
Tim, even though this is happening, it’s likely not a personal decision by Facebook about your political views. I’m actually familiar with this topic, because I’ve had the pleasure of helping to administer a Facebook page for a television news station. One of two things is likely happening.
First, it may be that the administrators of the page are a little iffy about your comments. Administrators have the option to delete or to hide comments. When you a hide a comment, it is visible to the person who made it and that person’s Facebbook friends, but not to other users of the page. That could be due to language or because the admin feels there’s something there that could be considered libelous or just because it has the potential to start a lot of angry ranting.
A case I can think of from personal experience at a television station involved multiple people saying some very cruel things about a teenager killed in a car accident. The comments were very upsetting to his family and they requested that they be removed.
Another possibility is that the comment filter on the page suspects your comments are spam or contain cursing. If you are using profanity in your posts, I’d stop it because that could lead to your comments being filtered. Using all caps or lots of punctuation or including links in comments will have the same effect. I know from personal experience that the filter is imperfect and sometimes lets profanity through and blocks posts because of a smiley face.
The admin of the page needs to go through and approve comments that the filter suspects have problems. The people running some pages may not have the time or the inclination to deal with that process.
The First Amendment prevents the government from forbidding you to speak, it doesn’t require any site to publish your opinion. If you have an issue with a page blocking your comments, you could attempt to contact the administrators to ask why they were hidden or you could always start your own page where you set the content rules.