Facebook Interfered in U.S. Elections 39 Times Since 2008

MRC Free Speech America researchers uncovered 39 instances of Facebook interfering in U.S. elections since 2008.

These actions began taking off in 2012 and “reached a crescendo” in 2020, according to the researchers. While Facebook has engaged in censorship activity, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg claimed that political censorship is “dangerous.”

“And yet, from 2012 through 2024, Facebook has vacillated between a hands-off approach to free speech online and repeated election interference through policy changes and outright censorship of political candidates and ideas,” MRC’s report says.

One of the more notable instances of censorship occurred in 2012, when Facebook suspended a Veteran PAC for a “meme drawing attention to the attack on Benghazi.”

Facebook claimed the meme featuring then-President Barak Obama violated the platform’s “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”

The social media site also removed ads for congressional candidates in 2018, according to MRC.

Censorship “exploded” in 2020, the researchers noted. “The platform censored posts and ads from then-sitting President Donald Trump at least four times and took down seven political ads paid for by the political right. One of these ad campaigns Facebook killed just over a month before the election,” they wrote.

Republican congressional and gubernatorial were similarly censored in 2022.

The Biden White House asked Facebook to censor posts in order to promote mainstream media’s views on COVID-19 vaccines, according to 2021 meeting notes.

The meetings involved White House Digital Director Rob Flaherty and Facebook executives.

In a memo from April 14, 2021, Flaherty asked Facebook if it could tweak its algorithm to push articles from The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal over those from The Daily Wire and Fox News commentator Tomi Lahren.

“In terms of interventions, know that there are groups that are hot spots – mandatory post approvals – admins have to approve posts. If violating content is approved, give the group a strike,” the Facebook executive said. “I’m uncovering new examples on comments – public figures on comments might be contributing more. Tomi Lahren posted on how she’s not getting the vaccine. Even with comment reduction, still struggling if we reduce comments from public figures, Tomi Lahren makes a post.”