In order to stay relevant, any movement, cause, or industry must stay with the times. In 2023, it’s a poison pill if you don’t utilize social media. Not having some sort of an online presence really will negatively affect the way the public interacts with whatever message you’re standing behind. One of the biggest social media companies is META, the parent of Facebook and Instagram. META has been under fire more than once on the censorship of its users and recently I caught wind of some high profile accounts getting the duct tape treatment on Instagram.
Earlier this week, retired U.S. LTC Willes K. Lee, current NRA Board Member and former 1st Vice President of the NRA, posted on Instagram that his content was being censored. In an Instagram post on August 6, 2023 Lee said, “Any article about #DGU & #selfdefense gets flagged. #censor #censorship #herewegoagain.” Lee included a screenshot of warnings that his posts may go against community guidelines.
I reached out to Lee and we had an opportunity to chat about the situation. He indicated that the censoring and subversion of his messages getting out has everything to do with promoting something that does not ideologically fall into what META would find normal. Since gun ownership, firearms, shooting, and defensive use of firearms are all things that the progressive left powerbrokers find abhorrent, they have big tech silence the loudest voices.
Go against the grain even a little and get canceled.
“I posted a lot of DGU stuff, defensive gun use stuff,” Lee told me, “I would, I guess, make conjecture that once again, they’re trying to stop us from letting people know, folks, good guys use guns, folks are out there saving their lives with firearms.” He noted that this is not his first round of censoring and that now his posts can only be viewed by people that specifically follow him.
During our conversation, I had mentioned to Lee that I had seen similar posts about other accounts being censored this week. Gun Owners Radio was one, another small channel that wished to not be named in this piece, and while not connected to Instagram, the Gun Owners’ Action League reported that Linktree axed their account temporarily, before reinstating it. Lee had told me that Dianna Muller, a three gun competitive shooter, and the founder of the DC Project, commented on his post that she was having a #metoo moment as well.
“We’re all leaders who other folks look at,” Lee said, “When Instagram [et.al.] censors, hinders, and threatens movement leaders such as the DC Project, GOAL, Gun Owners Radio, and an NRA VP, I can imagine the hassle all firearms supporters endure.” Lee ended by saying, “It’s almost robotic, AI driven. Always four posts at a time, always the start of the month, never explaining what ‘community standard’ is being ‘violated.’ It sure as hell isn’t my community.”
I reached out to Muller to discuss with her what offending content she was hustling over on her page. Two of the flagged pieces of content included one picture of “his and hers” rifles, and a short video of Muller doing some running and then shooting a rifle afterwards.
Muller getting censored like this is something she says happens regularly. I asked her if there was any specific content she thought was being fingered, like in the case of Lee thinking defensive gun uses might be triggering the flag, and she said pretty anything “gun” related is up for grabs. Since the censoring started, Muller said, “I used to reach 350,000 accounts a month. Right now I’m at 19,000. My account status says ‘your content is not affected right now.’ What this means is you are not at risk of losing what you can do [on Instagram].”
The topic of these private companies subverting free speech on their platforms is contentious. The big social media companies do enjoy insulation from liability based on their status as providers rather than publishers. Well, if they’re not acting officially as publishers, they shouldn’t be acting as editors either. Personally, and this is a view held by many, what these groups do is violative of our rights when selected content is being hushed, and the prevailing progressive rhetoric being amplified.
Muller agreed with my assessment on how this is beyond a gray area and said:
“My understanding is that this is a violation of my First Amendment rights. I would really like to see our industry or lawyers smart enough to navigate this space start to document and track these stories and build a class action lawsuit if applicable.” – Dianna Muller on censorship by big tech
I don’t know if things are going to get better before they get worse. One thing I did mention to Muller when we were chatting is that RFK Jr. is currently embroiled in a suit with Google and YouTube over censorship, so it’s not like we’re the only ones. But RFK Jr.’s situation is a bit different than ours. Where his is similar, it has everything to do with his message not comporting to the narrative 100% and, in my opinion, his running for the Democratic presidential nominee is a big threat to the deep state pinkos. I think I saw something similar when I was a kid and George H.W. was seeking reelection.
In the time of hanging up the phone with Lee and me working on this copy, he got another notification that his account is going against community standards. He said the posts were all related to defensive gun uses. In a text message he doubled down on his hypothesis, and said, “It appears the Instagram censors are opposed to the public knowing that lawful citizens defend their families from violent criminals.”
What we can do is continue to like, subscribe, and share the content we like. I’m in the camp that there’s no reason for us to be forced to pack up our marbles and go somewhere else. Big tech needs to deal with us and our voices. If it eventually results in a giant class action lawsuit, all the better. Should we have backup plans? Sure. Regardless, I commend the efforts of leaders like Lee and Muller for doing what they do, and for continuing to be ambassadors of the Second Amendment, shooting sports, and self-defense, by using their platforms – even if META tries to stuff a ball gag in their mouths.