State Senator Amanda Chase (R-Chesterfield) said Friday that she has been banned from posting to her public Facebook page for 30 days, with an additional ban on posting live video for another 30 days. In addition to the ban, Facebook removed some of her posts, including a video showing a woman being shot in the U.S. Capitol and flagged as false Chase’s claims of Antifa involvement in the Wednesday Capitol riot.
“This morning, Facebook restricted my access to my Senator Amanda Chase Facebook page so that I can neither post nor comment for 30 days nor go live or advertise for 60 days,” Chase told The Virginia Star. “As a Virginia state senator and candidate for governor, I daily use this medium, multiple times per day, to communicate with the people of Virginia.”
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment.
Chase has 135,465 followers on her public page, where she uses a combination of lengthy State-of-the-Commonwealth videos and regular posts to reach her followers. The ban means Chase will be unable to use her main account to interact with the public for most of the 30-day regular General Assembly session which begins January 13. It also means Chase won’t be able to reach her base using her normal page.
“We knew in advance that something like this could event happen, so we’re all ready,” Chase said. “But I just think that it’s important that we allow our elected leaders to communicate to those they represent in Virginia, and I just think it’s misguided and unfortunate that they would do that to an elected official.”
Chase said she already has accounts on alternate social media like Parler and MeWe. Chase is also still posting to her personal Facebook page.
Chase said Facebook has a double standard. She said, “I think there should be guidelines that are considered reasonable to the average person, but I think they have gone a step too far. Their viewpoint is one of the liberal left, and they’re silencing conservatives.”
Heritage Foundation Legal Fellow Zack Smith wouldn’t comment on any specific case, but he noted that the First Amendment only prevents government censorship, not censorship from businesses like Facebook or other social media.
Smith said, “Even though these entities are technically not subject to the First Amendment, we’re a society that values free speech with the free and open exchange of ideas. So anytime that’s being restricted, we certainly need to take close look at that and see why exactly that’s happening.”
He added, “It sets a troubling precedent whenever we’re trying to silence people that maybe just simply we disagree with.”
Chase has come under heavy criticism from many Virginia Democrats for her comments, including from the Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus (VSDC), who on Friday called for Chase to resign.
“For someone who defends herself and the insurrectionists she calls ‘patriots’ with the Constitution, she either willfully or unwittingly doesn’t understand what her sworn oath to defend it actually means,” the caucus said in a press release.
Speaking for herself, not the caucus, VSDC Communications Director Jacqueline Hixson told The Star, “I think being a part of instigating not only a riot but what I believe to be insurrection is absolutely problematic.”
Hixson said that Facebook, as a non-governmental entity, can set its own policy. She said, “They’re monopolies but they’re not regulated monopolies, there’s not a certain obligation that they have to anyone other than shareholders to uphold any rules,” Hixson said. “With their perspective of not wanting to promote misinformation, I think that there is a responsibility there [to control user content], but again, that’s not my call.”
However, Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) said, “This goes for anybody, but particularly for a legislator who is reaching out to her constituents, to potential constituents, to stakeholders, et cetera: you don’t chill their right to communicate their views.”
“Here’s a quote that is not mine, a Supreme Court jurist said it decades ago, but it is as true today as it was when he said it, and that is the following: ‘Protecting speech that we agree with is the easy part, but protecting speech that we loathe is the hard part,” Morrissey said.
He said that people are still responsible for the things they say, and can face lawsuits or criminal charges for what they say.
Morrissey said, “The content isn’t the issue. The issue is whether or not we’re going to peremptorily chill that right, and I’m against it.”
The Virginia Star’s Publisher John Fredericks tweeted on Friday, “While I don’t agree or condone many of @AmandaChaseVA comments on a variety of issues & events, the decision by @Facebook to arbitrarily silence a VA state sen. & governor candidate should run shivers up your spine. We’re lurching into a very dangerous censorship of free speech.”
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John Fredericks is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Virginia Star.
He is also a Trump 2020 delegate and the chairman of the Trump Virginia Delegation.