Facebook has banned libertarian Missouri Senate candidate Austin Petersen for 30 days because he committed the crime of promoting an AR-15 giveaway, using the social media site only as a medium of communication, not a medium for exchange.
According to The Libertarian Republic, Facebook originally banned Austin Petersen for 30 days back in the fall of 2017 for promoting an AR-15 giveaway on his campaign site (win one here); however, the social media company reversed their ban mid-way through, after finally acknowledging that Petersen had broken no rules.
“After wide publication and public outcry, Facebook reversed the ban halfway through the 30 day period stating that this was not a violation of their terms of service,” reports TLR. “It was deemed to not be a violation because Facebook was not actually being used as a medium for the transaction. Petersen was assured by Facebook that it was an error, and his Facebook access was restored.”
Since Facebook explicitly said that Petersen had committed no wrong, the senatorial candidate launched another AR-15 giveaway on Tuesday, only to be met with the same ban again.
Several Facebook users noted that contests with guns as prizes are quite frequent on the social media site and, until Peterson’s, those giveaways have never met with bans so long as Facebook is not the medium of exchange.
Petersen suspects that the reason for his punishment may correlate with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s donation of $5,400 to his Democratic opponent Claire McCaskill.
The 30-day ban could very well be Facebook’s shrewd attempt to stifle an election campaign, given Sandberg’s support for Petersen’s opponent.