It should be well known to everyone now that the claim Alberta Premier Danielle Smith was censored or banned by Facebook is nothing more than a tall tale. 

Premier’s Office Executive Director Rob Anderson back in the day when he was a Wildrose MLA (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

On Wednesday, Ms. Smith used Twitter to claim she had been suspended from posting messages on Facebook 

“Big tech and government censorship is becoming a danger to free speech around the world,” she or someone with the keys to her social media accounts tweeted somewhat ungrammatically that day, going on to claim that “my Facebook account has been banned from posting content for a ‘few days’.”

“As the Premier of a province of 4.6 million Albertans,” she complained, “if they can prevent me from communicating with you, imagine what they can do to any one of us. Regardless of our political leanings, we must all stand against censorship.”

As noted in this space, this provoked a certain amount of ironic hilarity on social media at the time, given the practice of Ms. Smith or her communications team to ban almost anyone who utters even the mildest criticism in response to her social media postings. 

It wasn’t long, however, before Catherine Griwkowski of Politics Today managed to get in touch with Meta, Facebook’s parent company, which said, “There were no restrictions placed on the Premier’s Page. One of the Page’s administrators faced restrictions, but that did not impact the underlying Page’s ability to post content.” (Emphasis added.) 

Journalist Catherine Griwkowski, who got the scoop on Meta’s take on its alleged Facebook ban of Premier Danielle Smith (Photo: Politics Today).

Meta’s response has now been widely reported, and may media outfits have noted that the page indicates it has five administrators, none of whom are identified by name.

Ms. Smith’s tweet has not been removed.

Legitimate questions at this point include whether Ms. Smith or her social media administrators included information they knew to be misleading when they published the original tweet, as seems likely, and who the administrator is who faces restrictions, and for what.

The second question is prompted in part by Rob Anderson, the former Wildrose MLA who is now the executive director of the Premier’s Office, for his insulting and personal attack on an Alberta political scientist who had commented mildly on the irony of the premier’s cries of outrage when she herself is guilty of blocking scores, perhaps thousands, of critics. 

However, perhaps we should be grateful to Ms. Smith and Mr. Anderson for highlighting a legitimate concern about the power of huge U.S.-based social media companies like Meta, Twitter and Google to influence public opinion and make arbitrary decisions about who gets to speak about what, not to mention their willingness to allow malignant forces to make false claims to influence public opinion as long as there’s money to be made.

Alert readers will also be aware of Canadian Conservative parties’ nearly hysterical efforts to portray the federal Liberals’ Online Streaming Act, which would impose Canadian content measures on Internet streaming services, as a sinister “censorship bill.”

“Conservatives will always stand up for Canadians’ right to freely express themselves, and their access to information, free from the claws of government censors,” the Conservative Party of Canada screeches on its web page, a grainy manipulated photo of Justin Trudeau illustrating the overheated rhetoric.

Meanwhile, the CPC’s Alberta counterparts – essentially the same people – are shrieking about alleged online censorship by megalithic U.S. social media corporations supposedly deaf to the craving of Canadians for free speech. 

The obvious implication of Ms. Smith’s (albeit factually deficient) complaint is that there needs to be some sort of government regulation of social media giants.

So, which is it? 

We thought the Conservatives – united or otherwise – were the ones who believed the private sector always did everything better. One wonders: Why aren’t they, in this instance, sticking to their lane? 

But let it be said that with Facebook and Twitter now operating in many countries, including Canada, as de facto public utilities, there is merit to the idea they should be subject to government regulation to ensure they don’t become a danger to free speech and human rights.

Moreover, if social media companies will not regulate themselves to prevent the spread of hate, false information, or invasions of users’ privacy (which, in fairness, Meta may have been trying to do with its temporary suspension of the unnamed UCP page administrator) then governments will indeed need to step in to protect our democracy. 

Also worth reading this weekend …

Duncan Kinney of Progress Alberta (Photo: David J. Climenhaga).

Duncan Kinney, writing in the Progress Report, reveals that a proposal for a law enforcement and trucking industry training facility in town of Beaumont south of Edmonton violated the Alberta government’s own rules “by having conservative-connected insiders lobby the government after the proposal had been submitted.” The site, he says, could be used as a new training facility for the UCP’s planned Alberta provincial police force. 

Meanwhile, Press Progress describes how just like their counterparts in the United States, far-right culture warriors in Alberta associated with the powerful Take Back Alberta faction of the UCP are pivoting to anti-trans and anti-gay hate as their as the focus of their movement. Writing in the New York Times, high-profile U.S. columnist Michelle Goldberg describes how the U.S. far right has shifted from Islamophobia to Transphobia to keep its rage machine firing on all cylinders. “The backlash against what’s sometimes called gender ideology is so strong that it’s creating space for strange new political bedfellows,” she observes. 

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  1. One has to wonder whether all this manufactured rage on the right will burn itself out sooner or later, particularly in the US with its ongoing culture wars. I have a feeling an increasing number of people are just getting tired of it all.

    I suppose this might keep a fringe or base angry and motivated. There conservatism seems to be going into a dark corner, however one that is neither very appealing to much of big business or other traditional conservative supporters.

    In Canada, Alberta seems the closest to embracing this so called populist conservative approach. Instead of attacking Disney, Smith is now attacking Facebook, which it turns out wasn’t actually censoring her at all. Meanwhile her colleagues in Ottawa seem to be championing Facebook over the Federal Liberals who seem to be trying to reign in large tech companies.

    I feel Smith can often be her own worst enemy and I don’t think her current imaginary battle against Facebook is helping her Federal colleagues, as they desperately try to find a Hillary’s emails type of issue to undermine their own political opponents.

    I don’t know if more will come out about why someone in Smith’s office was restricted by Facebook. If it does, I have a feeling it may make Smith and her staff look even more ridiculous, if that is possible at this point.

  2. Seems most of us made a mistake. What? To believe Danielle Smith is capable of telling the truth. Her minions, we see, will do and say anything.

  3. Who is running the Facebook censorship board anyways? Five years ago there was a big announcement that Facebook was teaming up with the Atlantic Council, a hawkish think tank made up of defence industry lobbyist, to police Facebook content. The mission of the Atlantic Council is to push US strategic interests around the world and one of the battering rams that has evolved lately is the LBGTQ banner.

    Speaking of the alphabet banner, there is the perception that trans ideology is often at the expense of women. Trans people are showing up at women’s sporting events and cleaning up. Recently John Hopkins University removed the word “women” entirely from their gender identity glossary, referring to them as “non-men” which prompted an uproar.

    1. Did you even read the post or are you just pulling a typical alt-right winger and make up your own story to suit your agenda? It’s very clear that Cherokee Dani was never banned or censored. Great to see your gaslighting skills are up to snuff though, by trying to turn this into an anti-trans tirade….

    2. Ah so if Facebook is pushing the LBGTQ+ “agenda” (you said ideology, but you’re an idiot who thinks there isn’t a difference between left and right wing ideologies) who is pushing all the transphobic content also on their platform !? It’s not a social media phenomenon? No, it’s very in the interests of capital to keep folks fighting over social issues, so they don’t connect them to material issues. Most
      of this happens online these days and this bird highly doubts it’s uncoordinated.

      Also, the mealy mouthed way you talk about this is typical of the cowardice inherent in bigots, and though you’re incapable you should be ashamed of yourself.

      Queer albertans of all sorts have more guts and bravery in a single chromosome than the entire right wing in this province, cowards to a person.

  4. “Hey hey hey Snowflake. My pretty little Snowflake….”
    (with thanks to Jim Reeves)

  5. It should be noted that Danielle Smith decided to post her discontent with Meta’s supposed ban on her Facebook account on Twitter, as well as tagging Elon Musk in the process. To what end?

    All the Alt-Right crazies have been singing the praises of Musk ever since he bought Twitter, at an utterly insane price tag of $ 44 B, as the last and best hope for free speech and democracy in the world. Of course, these are the same people who defend Putin’s “special military action” in Ukraine as an act of self-defence, so there needs to be some consideration made as to which ideological and financial interests these people serve. They are Kremlin apparatchiks without reservation.

    At some point, the realization and the acceptance must be made is that NATO is at war with Putin — not Russia, but Putin — and a formal declaration must follow to that effect. Then, all of Putin’s vocal flunkies can be rounded up and treated accordingly; they are traitors, pure and simple, and must bear the ultimate sanctions for their treachery. It will be amazing to see how many clam up then. I guess free speech will not be that important when their own necks are on the line. I mean it’s all fun and games, until they become an enemies of the state, right?

    Prior to WW2, there are an abundance of Nazi sympathizers who believed A. Hitler was the last hope of white Christian Western Civilization from the Jews, Bolsheviks, and other undesirables. Yes, the German-American Bund sought peace and understanding with Nazi Germany for a better tomorrow. They even had camps dedicated to the cause, as various mouthpieces in the media promoting their cause. America Uber Alles, indeed.

    The Culture Wars that have fermented for decades in the West have become the willing mouthpieces for Putin and his Russian nationalist worldview. Social media platforms have been hijacked by this mindset, especially Twitter, which has become an unrepentant hellscape for disinformation. Of course, Danielle Smith would head there first to vent her unwarranted frustration with Facebook. It appears that the management of the Smith’s own FB account was found to be highly questionable, and perhaps in violation of Meta’s own EULA with its users, though clearly not suspended.

    If Smith really wants to defend freedom of speech her way, perhaps she should run off to Truth Social? It seems anything goes on that platform.

    1. Your analysis of Russia is lacking, as you blame the actions on the president and not the government which he is beholden to, that voted for the SMO. The official opposition is the communist party. The SMO enjoys broad support and the president has an approval rating much higher than our own leaders. As far as the “saviour” of western civilization I don’t see how you missed Zelensky, the cokehead, embezzling, former actor is very much being framed as the defender of western civilization, you know with his army of conscripted children and elderly.

      Oh yeah and like you know with 60-80 percent of the weapons the west sending him ending up on the black market for drug trafficking and terrorist organizations to arm themselves with.

      It’s all Putin’s fault.

    2. Just Me, you have a pretty weird view of things. Because I think free speech is a good thing I’m a Putin fan boy or a Kremlin apparatchik as you put it? I didn’t know that a country could formally declare war on an individual but if so then what do you mean by “…rounded up and treated accordingly; they are traitors, pure and simple, and must bear the ultimate sanctions for their treachery.” Capital punishment because I like free speech?
      I’d like to think that if you reflect on this post when you’re sober you might write it differently – maybe not.

  6. More of the same old same old reliable manipulation from the lobbyist/talk show host; where, it is most appropriate to observe that a certain philosopher “makes an important distinction between lying and bullshitting. Both the liar and the bullshitter try to get away with something. But ‘lying’ is perceived to be a conscious act of deception, whereas ‘bullshitting’ is unconnected to a concern for truth.” [cf., speech norms and an assumed “cooperative principle”, i.e., for example “in simple terms, the maxim of quality is to be truthful. Supermaxim: Try to make your contribution one that is true. Submaxims: Do not say what you believe is false. Do not say that for which you lack adequate evidence.” That is,”I expect your contributions to be genuine and not spurious. If I need sugar as an ingredient in the cake you are assisting me to make, I do not expect you to hand me salt; if I need a spoon, I do not expect a trick spoon made of rubber.”]

    Of course there are a multiplicity of issues associated with the deliberate and calculated manipulation/gaslighting of an entire population, for example:

    1. “Conservatives will always stand up for Canadians’ right to freely express themselves, . . . free from the claws of government censors,” the Conservative Party of Canada screeches on its web page. . .”

    Even as, “Danielle Smith blocked thousands of Albertans on her Twitter account. Anyone who challenges her opinions gets blocked.”

    2. The supposed great redeeming ‘positive’ value is that the loons and their carefully cultivated lunacies now have an ‘official’ representative/manipulator and a “Voice” for their concerns. Such that,

    “Many of these ideas about so-called globalist agendas and individual freedoms being curtailed for the sake of the collective were very much mainstreamed because of pandemic policies. I fear that most of the politicians who are echoing these ideas because they think that’s what their voters want them to talk about don’t fully understand the dark side of some of these ideas. They have a surface-level understanding of how harmful these ideas can be for our democratic discourse,” Amarasingam said via email.

    “For them, it just sounds like they are promoting individual freedoms and Canadian economic interests. But these ideas, for these conspiratorial communities, arise from a deep well of apocalyptic thinking, antisemitism and far-right populism. Politicians should be careful not to inadvertently mainstream these viewpoints in their campaigns.”

  7. How much of our tax dollars are being spent to put a filter on our professional talk show host Premier? Who knows! But who’s up first! For them little droogs labouring long and hard for our own clockwork orange Dani! Here’s your theme song you little beggars!

  8. She could always talk to a newspaper or news station or something. Unless she still doesn’t answer questions in order to give more answers. How dare a private company do what it wants. More red tape in the name of freedom and red tape reduction.

  9. Far right like every parent, according to your Der leader in Ottawa? Pushing for a bipolar world as usual. 100% in the part of the problem camp.

    1. And troll #2 comes along to spew some more drivel….Bret, I’m starting to think that you are just a bot because your non-sensical ramblings are incoherent at best and just plain stupifying at worst. If anyone here can decode a Bret Larson post go buy a lottery ticket because you are luckier than me!

    2. I like how conservatives can’t go
      Thirty seconds without bringing up Trudeau like it’s a gotcha.

      I’ve never voted Trudeau, and chances are pretty good I dislike him more than you do. Dude just lives rent free in your head though. Is it the hair? The prestige? The fact he’s a legacy ? What makes you all go so crazy.

      No one cares, the free Trudeau bingo space only works when you’re talking to likeminded sycophants, he’s not a dictator.

  10. Regarding the “far right” keeping its rage machine firing on all cylinders, there are a couple of points missed on this. These groups might be raging against the establishment but the reality is they are part of the establishment. We call them “far right” but their beliefs and positions are not much different from the politicians making the real decisions. Bedfellows they are and it’s not strange at all because their big right tent is for anyone who supports the suppression of working people – whether it’s political Islam or Christian fundamentalism. The TBA vilifies Trudeau but are the Liberals friends of the workers? What is Chrystia Freeland doing to help Joe & Jane Canadian to get by in life? In the US are people like Biden, Blinken, or Victoria Nuland doing great things to help the US citizens? These are the “far right” people we should be confronting with our anger.
    No, the ruling establishment is happy as Hell for us to be fighting with each other over religion, gender ideology or identity politics of any kind and these people are just doing the work for the elite class against us.
    Finland is hailed for joining NATO and we’re supposed to think this is the greatest thing ever, yet the new governing coalition there is acknowledged to be the most far-right ever elected in Finland. Same thing happening in Spain and Germany. This is who’s driving our bus while we fight amongst ourselves over pronouns.

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