Was Palin’s anti-mosque Facebook post removed as ‘hate speech’?

Liz Goodwin
July 22, 2010

Facebook is investigating why a post by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, defending her stance against a proposed mosque near the World Trade Center site in New York, temporarily disappeared Thursday.

[Photos: See the latest images of Sarah Palin]

A blogger on the Tumblr platform is claiming credit for the post's disappearance, saying he started an Internet campaign to flag the post as hate speech.

The post reappeared shortly before noon Eastern.

A Facebook feature allows users to confidentially report content for perceived violations including "racist/hate speech." A spokesman tells the Upshot they are investigating whether the post may have been removed by their automated system that responds to user complains:

We're investigating this incident to determine whether the content in question was removed by an automated system as a result of user reports that it violated our terms. We want Facebook to be a place where people can openly discuss issues and express their views while respecting the rights and feelings of others. The goal of our policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving people the freedom to express their opinions and viewpoints — even those that may be controversial to some — and maintaining a safe and trusted environment.

Palin's post said that the leader of the proposed mosque, Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf,  "suggested that blame be placed on the innocents when he stated that the 'United States’ policies were an accessory to the crime that happened'" on 9/11. You can read her post here.

[Photos: See the current World Trade Center site and mosque protesters]

Politico's Ben Smith, who flagged the post's disappearance on Twitter, wrote in 2007 that websites' "report" features can restrict users' speech.

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