Fox News host Tucker Carlson has frequently criticized major tech and social media companies, among other entities, for a perceived bias against conservative thought. In an online post this week, he used a personal example to make his broader point.
Carlson confirmed that Facebook had just limited the reach of his content on the platform over the company’s stated concerns about the accuracy of the information he had been sharing, as reported by the Daily Caller.
“Today’s censorship by Facebook,” Carlson wrote. “‘Reduced Distribution.’ It’s no coincidence that the election is just weeks away.”
A screenshot of the warning Carlson received from Facebook accompanied his statement.
“Your Page has reduced distribution and other restrictions because of repeated sharing of false news,” the update advised.
The company went on to note that Carlson’s page will now bear an indicator of that designation, adding that Facebook users “will also be able to see if a Page has a history of sharing false news.”
According to the Daily Caller, the move by Facebook came in the wake of a segment on Carlson’s show during which he discussed a story originally reported by a Fox affiliate in Nashville, Tennessee. That station cited leaked emails in portraying a scenario that suggested the mayor advocated withholding coronavirus infection numbers linked to bars and restaurants because the results were lower than expected.
“There had been a cover-up”
“Hide all good news — that’s the policy,” Carlson said earlier this month in reaction to the story. “Otherwise, the fear might subside and our power along with it.”
Days later, however, WZTV’s reporting was challenged by fact-checkers and the station issued a retraction along with an apology.
“In a segment that aired earlier this week, we incorrectly asserted that Mayor Cooper’s office withheld COVID-19 data from the public, which implied that there had been a cover-up,” the station explained. “We want to clarify that we do not believe there was any cover-up, and we apologize for the error and oversight in our reporting.”
While Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy reacted to the update by apologizing to viewers “for any confusion” that his show’s prior reporting on the story might have caused, Carlson maintained that the affiliate pulled the story “under pressure from the mayor’s office” and that “we don’t know the truth” about why those numbers were kept under wraps.
Whether the original Nashville story was misleading or not, it is worth noting that Facebook did not appear to take widespread action against users who gleefully shared speculative claims about Russian collusion with Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, many of which were debunked by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team.