FB Apologies To Rep. Newman For Flagging Video Of Trans Flag As Hate Speech

Marie Newman, Democratic candidate for Congress in IL-03, speaks to reporters in Washington on January 17, 2018. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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February 25, 2021 12:51 p.m.

Facebook apologized on Thursday to Rep. Marie Newman (D-IL) for flagging a video that was shared on its platform of the congresswoman installing a transgender pride flag outside of her office as hate speech.

“Facebook took down our video of me putting up the Transgender flag outside my office,” Newman had written in a Thursday morning tweet.

“Meanwhile, they’re still allowing Marjorie Taylor Greene’s transphobic video to be posted,” Newman said of the other video, in which Greene pastes a hateful message reading, “There are TWO genders: Male & Female. Trust The Science!”

A Facebook spokesman responded a few hours later by apologizing for the mislabeling of the post based on a claim that it had violated the platforms community standards for hate speech and inferiority.

“This plainly should not have happened,” Andy Stone, a communications policy director for Facebook, wrote, offering the company’s “sincere apologies” after restoring the content.

The video of Newman planting the flag came after Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) took aim at an LGBT rights bill known as the Equality Act during a floor speech on Tuesday.

In response to Newman’s video, Greene had posted a clip of herself pasting an anti-transgender sign outside of her own office, which is located across the hall from the Democratic congresswoman.

Facebook has frequently come under fire for allowing messages of hate to appear on its platform.

The company’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said during a Fox News interview last year, while taking heat for allowing some of Trump’s more incendiary remarks and false claims to populate its pages, that he did not envision the platform to serve as an “arbiter of truth.” Zuckerberg’s comments came after its rival social media network, Twitter, began fact-checking tweets from the now-banned account of former President Donald Trump, who made frequent false claims about a “fraudulent” mail-in ballot process.

In 2017, Facebook had notably issued a statement backing the Equality Act and saying it opposed workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Equality Act has been introduced multiple times and was passed by the House in 2019.

The bill, which would explicitly prevent certain kinds of discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, was reintroduced last week. It has been a priority for President Joe Biden, who urged Congress last week to “swiftly pass this historic legislation.”

“Every person should be treated with dignity and respect, and this bill represents a critical step toward ensuring that America lives up to our foundational values of equality and freedom for all,” Biden said.

House members from the newly-elected 117th Congress are set to vote this week on the anti-discrimination bill, which Newman said she would vote to pass in honor of her own daughter who is transgender.

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