Meta Blocks Kansas Reflector and MSNBC Columnist Over Op-Ed Criticizing Facebook

The company says Friday afternoon that the blocks, which falsely labeled the links as spam, were due to “a security error”

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An op-ed column published by the Kansas Reflector that criticized Meta was blocked through late afternoon Friday on Facebook and Threads – even after the tech giant had apologized for blocking the nonprofit news group’s entire website the day before in what it characterized as a “mistake” unrelated to the contents of the column.

In addition, Meta subsequently blocked all links to journalist Marisa Kabas’ website The Handbasket for several hours on Friday, after she republished the op-ed with permission of the Reflector.

Meta quietly stopped blocking access to The Handbasket around 1:30 p.m. Pacific on Friday. Around 3:oo p.m., access to the original op-ed on the Kansas Reflector website was also restored.

Representatives for the company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment from TheWrap, but shortly before 3:00 p.m., Meta spokesperson Andy Stone asserted these blocks were due to “a security error” that “mistakenly prompted the blocking of links to News From The States and The Handbasket.”

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On Thursday morning, the Kansas Reflector posted a column by Dave Kendall titled, “When Facebook fails, local media matters even more for our planet’s future.” The column criticized the tech giant for refusing to promote his climate change documentary, writing that “Meta deems climate change too controversial for discussion on their platforms.”

“The implications of such policies for our democracy are alarming,” Kendall wrote. “Why should corporate entities be able to dictate what type of speech or content is acceptable?”

After the column was published, all posts linking to the Kansas Reflector’s website were removed by Facebook. This not only impacted the outlet’s account but also anyone who had ever shared a story from the Reflector.

The outlet received notifications that their posts on Facebook had violated community guidelines on cybersecurity. 

The Reflector then published a story on the developing situation and posted it to X, where Meta communications director Andy Stone replied that the ban was accidental and denied that it was related to the critical column.

“This was an error that had nothing to do with the Reflector’s recent criticism of Meta,” Stone wrote on X. “It has since been reversed and we apologize to the Reflector and its readers for the mistake.”

Then on Friday, Kabas republished the op-ed on The Handbasket under the title “Here’s the column Meta doesn’t want you to see,” which she subsequently posted on Threads. Meta then removed that post and began blocking all links to The Handbasket, not just the op-ed, with messages falsely labeling it spam or a warning that the link “may be malicious.”

The handbasket blocked spam message
The Handbasket labeled as Spam on Facebook


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