Shadow-Banned Over The Election

Both the political right and left are coming after the large social media platforms due to their powerful influence over society. The right has complained about the censorship executed by the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter for silencing conservative voices while the left has voiced concern about these perceived monopolies destroying competition. The left has mostly been dismissive about the idea that the corporations have a left-leaning disposition, and if they do, they are nonplussed. If corporations are allowed to contribute to election campaigns (see Citizens United v. FEC which the left abhorred), they should similarly be free to share or block content.

As to the question of whether shadow-banning is real, consider this blog of FirstOneThrough which has a right-of-center orientation to American and Israeli politics.

On a typical week, Facebook would account for over 10 times the number of referrals to an article as search engines. That pattern was relatively consistent whether there were few or several posts.

But the pattern broke during the election cycle.

Weeks EndingFB AverageSearch AverageRatio
Dec 136725813x
Nov 8181563
Sep 208236013
Aug 25384811
Jun 149267114
Impact of Facebook Shadow Banning on views of First One Through blog

During the seven week cycle before the 2020 U.S. presidential election, the blog remarkably went from getting roughly 13 times as many views from Facebook than search engines to only 3 times as much. The change was completely the result of a sharp decline in Facebook readership, as the volume produced from search engines remained constant.

That meant that fewer people had a chance to read the analysis of a vocal Libertarian and Zionist leading up to an important election. Once the election passed, Facebook permitted viewership patterns to return to normal (as of the following five weeks).

How and why did this happen?

Did a liberal reader flag the October 1 article “Vote Harvesting,” a completely true first-hand account of watching how a local election official can influence who gets to vote? Did Facebook decide on its own that posts from a writer who penned on September 25 “NY Times Tries Hard to Paint Obama/Biden as Pacifists and Trump as Mercenary” is an opinion to be silenced? Did an anti-Israel agitator do their utmost to flag a blogger who wrote on September 27 about the vile anti-Semitic Hamas Charter and how former Democratic U.S. President Jimmy Carter backed the Hamas terrorist group?

Whatever the origin of shadow ban, it clearly happened.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Facebook and Twitter’s actions around the closely contested election on Tuesday, Nov. 17, 2020, in Washington. | Bill Clark/Pool via AP

If Facebook wants to present itself as a biased platform like MSNBC or Fox News, that’s fine. A private platform can take whatever form it chooses. While it may be annoying when a media company like The New York Times pretends to be unbiased and not left-leaning, the tilt is well known and consistent. Only people living in a liberal bubble believe it to be a neutral and factual publication.

However, what kind of platform swings alt-left for just moments in time like during an election season? If the analysis presented by a blogger is offensive, then make it clear for that person to take their business and opinions elsewhere. Always.

What was done by social media in this instance was clear election-meddling, and on the grandest of scales due to the enormous power of social media. (\According to Pew research, 43% of Americans got their news from social media in 2018, a number that surely went up by 2020. That growing figure is despite a majority of people (57%) being skeptical of what they read.

In 2008, Barack Obama and his supporters were very effective in using social media, especially relative to John McCain supporters according to Pew Research. Obama voters surpassed McCain voters in posting content online (26% vs. 15%) and engaged politically on social media (25% vs. 16%) to yield a very successful outcome. But now, the social media companies themselves are keeping the gap in favor of Democrats by blocking the distribution of conservative posts.

Shadow banning in social media is very real and can easily tip presidential elections that are decided by less than one percent of voters in a couple of states. It is frightening and appalling that we no longer have to only fear the actions of foreign actors in the conduct of our democracy but the large social media platforms themselves.

Related First One Through articles:

Facebook’s Censorship is a Problem

Opinions on Facebook

Hateful and Violent Platforms: Comparing Facebook and the Golan Heights

The Press Are Not Guardians of the Galaxy

The Noose and the Nipple

Social Media’s “Fake News” and Mainstream Media’s Half-Truths

The Wide Scope of Foreign Interference

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Facebook’s Censorship is a Problem

When Facebook announced that it was banning Holocaust denial on October 12, many people celebrated. The dismissive language and attitudes related to millions of slaughtered Jews during World War II is viewed by many as not only offensive but the foundation for new hate crimes today. As such, the removal of such content and the platform’s limitation on sharing such articles was welcome news for many well-meaning people.

But censorship is a cruel hack that silences opinions and stories that stray from today’s new strictly-enforced orthodoxies.

This blog has been writing stories consistently for six years covering anti-Semitism, Zionism and American politics. The opinions have taken sharp aim at the liberal press’s criticisms of Israel during that time and was never shy in highlighting the deep anti-Semitism found in the foundational documents of Palestinian society, including the Hamas charter.

The articles have principally been shared on Facebook. Consequently, the platform’s decisions on which articles should be censored due to content – or author – directly impacts the blog’s viewership.

And since the end of September, the readership has suddenly plummeted.

Historically, popular First One Through articles were read by thousands and typical articles were read by several hundred. It was rare to ever have an article be consumed by fewer than 80 people. But over the past three weeks, not a single article has surpassed that total.

The September 25 article on “NY Times Tries Hard to Paint Obama/Biden as Pacifists and Trump as Mercenary” had only 101 views, a very poor showing. Remarkably, that is the highest total since that date. A true story relayed in “Vote Harvesting” got only 76 views even though it is a critical story being discussed today. The numbers have only gotten worse.

Friends found the story on vote harvesting impossible to believe and asked that I take it down since it was fanning distrust in the upcoming elections. It is a sentiment shared by the censors at Facebook. It has seemingly marked the FirstOneThrough blog as dangerous for society and is curtailing its viewership.

The notion that the good guys always win or that truth will always prevail are myths. Emboldening powerful platforms to censor stories it deems unworthy or incompatible with its worldview is toxic to a healthy democratic society.

First they came for my articles but I did not speak up because they did not censor mine…

Related First One Through articles:

Opinions on Facebook

The Press Are Not Guardians of the Galaxy

The Noose and the Nipple

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through Israel Analysis

Opinions on Facebook

On December 10, 1948, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 217A, known as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The backdrop behind its passage was the Holocaust of European Jewry, in which an entire people was dehumanized, hunted and slaughtered, and the consequent global goal of making sure that it never happens again.

The first two stances in the resolution’s preamble make this clear:

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,”

All people inherently deserve “freedom, justice and peace” and the common goal of humanity is the enjoyment of “freedom of speech and belief” as well as “freedom from fear and want.”

The resolution goes on to enumerate many ways to achieve such goals, such as banning slavery (Article 4) and torture (Article 5), the ability to marry and divorce (Article 16) and change one’s religion (Article 18). While these seem fundamental rights in the western world, they are unfortunately not present in much of the Middle East and Africa.

But the western world has its own challenges with other items published in the UDHR, that of freedom of speech in the world of social media. Article 19 states:

“Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

The notion that people have the right to “impart information… through any media… regardless of frontiers” is specifically being called out in the western world today.

The CEO of Facebook has been called before Congress and people have argued that Facebook must fact-check items before posting them as well as ban political ads.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress

At a speech before the Anti-Defamation League, the actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen argued that Facebook, Twitter and Google have created “the greatest propaganda machine in history,” one that would have allowed Hitler to run 30 second ads contributing to fringe ideas “going mainstream.”

But such condemnation should be addressed towards the individual or group posting the vile viewpoints, not the platform itself. Facebook is a megaphone / modern soapbox for ideas. It is not a newspaper with a staff which writes opinions of its own.

We have become enamored with attacking the large social media giants by adopting false progressive notions that: 1) social media is media; 2) any kind of “fear” is real and should be considered; and 3) simply being large and powerful is inherently evil.

Social Media versus Media

Social media enables millions and billions of people to connect with each other. The platforms enable third parties to share ideas and pictures with both friends and family as well as people they’ve never met. The interactions may be cordial or hostile; the content, funny or sad.

The social media companies are distribution companies. This is vastly different than a media company which either writes and produces its own content or pays people to write content for them. As companies like Google begin to hire professionals to produce content on platforms like YouTube, it is only at that point that they become media companies themselves.

These distribution companies decide for themselves whether they wish to publish particular content. If Twitter opts to not publish political ads, that is its choice. If Facebook does not want to be a platform for nudity, it has full discretion to do so.

But it is the content itself which should be the focus of attention and possible derision.

Freedom from Fear

While Article 19 of the UDHR clearly articulates that all opinions should be available on any media, the preamble to the resolution makes clear that people should be able to live with “freedom from fear.” As such, any content which calls for violence against any person or group should be banned from all platforms. No ifs, ands or buts.

But what constitutes “fear?” A perceived insult or slight might trigger “microaggressions” such as using the wrong pronoun for a transgender person. But that cannot truly be the benchmark of what the UDHR had in mind.

Many videos by the conservative Prager U have been banned by YouTube, despite the videos not advocating any violence. Dennis Prager testified before Congress in July 2019 that the social media platforms have been banning conservative voices because the media outlets are run by “coastal liberal latte-sipping politically-correct out-of-touch folks,” as President Obama called them. Prager said that “liberals and conservatives differ on many issues but they have always agreed free speech must be preserved. While the left has never supported free speech, liberals always have.

Prager considered that “the left” has become overly sensitive about a wide range of issues and have used that as an excuse to shut down free speech with which they disagree. The notion of “freedom from fear” is being abused to shut down free speech.

The Powerful Institutions versus the Common Man

These same alt-left progressives have taken to the notion that large institutions like Google, Facebook, Amazon, Goldman Sachs and Walmart are inherently evil. The socialists in Congress have been looking to pass numerous laws to punish them, tax them and break them apart. While Prager sees the social media companies as liberal outlets, the left sees them as corporate thieves who helped defeat Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.

As such, the left-wing socialists have waved the banner of support for the failing media companies who have peddled their half truths for years, arguing that they are on the front lines of democracy. (If only it were true.) But these media outlets can still write their pieces – and use the social media companies as outlets for distribution.

The big social media companies should NOT be in the fact checking business. However, they can improve upon their core distribution business by allowing people to see the source of the content placed before them and have greater control of the algorithms which tailor the content they see.

Allow people to have “freedom from fear” but not freedom from opinions of which they disagree.

Related First.One.Through articles:

Uncomfortable vs. Dangerous Free Speech

The Noose and the Nipple

Students for Justice in Palestine’s Dick Pics

The Press Are Not Guardians of the Galaxy

New York Times: “Throw the Jew Down the Well”

Ban Ki Moon Defecates on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Elie Wiesel on Words


Selective Speech

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Hateful and Violent Platforms: Comparing Facebook and the Golan Heights

Social media companies have been urged by U.S. government officials to do more to curb the spread of hateful ideology on their platforms. While the major platforms like YouTube and Facebook had long ago removed content which promoted violence, last week those companies took measures to remove not only specific hateful speech, but banned the individuals and hate groups themselves.

Initially Facebook had touted itself as a town hall/ public square of sorts. If an individual or group had the legal right to say something in public – even objectionable – they would permit such expression online. However, in the wake of fake news and the spread of terrorism, Facebook opted to ban “dangerous individuals” including Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones and Laura Loomer.

The reaction has been mixed.

While many people believe that the opinions of some individuals raise a level of hatred in society and welcome a new world order where such opinions would be deprived air, others are worried that the powerful global platforms would become the arbiters of what is considered permissible speech. Why should pointing out noxious radical Muslim Antisemitism be an action worthy of being banned while Holocaust denial is acceptable? Why should a crazy conspiracy theory that Jews were behind the terrorism of 9/11 be free to publish, while pointing to studies linking vaccinations and autism land someone in social media purgatory?

Others contend that YouTube and Facebook are private companies and are free to set the standards of their choosing. But is that so clear? Can the platforms, for example, more actively ban conservative content like PragerU than hate groups like Students for Justice in Palestine? If all private companies are permitted to decide for themselves what can be served on their platform, why the big fuss of the Colorado baker making a gay wedding cake? He didn’t ban gay people from buying items in his store, he just wouldn’t sell certain items at his store, nor create such items.

Governments also deny certain individuals particular rights if they feel such people are threats of its society.

Many countries – including leading democracies such as the United Kingdom, the United States and Israel – deny entry and citizenship to individuals “not conducive to the public good.” Some countries do more than just turn people away; they strip individuals of certain rights if they are viewed as threats, condemning them to “civil death.” These people lose the rights to use the country’s legal system, making it impossible to work in certain fields or even to own property.

The application of such principle is used in international contexts in the Middle East.

After decades of Syria shelling Israeli citizens in the 1950’s and 1960’s, and listening to Syrian taunts and threats of destroying Israel, Israel took the Golan Heights in the June 1967 Six Day War. That elevated platform was the launching pad Syrians used to attack the Israeli north. Israel effectively annexed the region in 1981 and the United States officially recognized Israeli rights to the area in March 2019, as the Syrian civil war wound down leaving the murderous dictator Basha al-Assad in place.

The Israeli Golan Heights
(photo: First.One.Through)

Societies around the world are making difficult decisions whether violent and hateful people, groups and governments maintain rights afforded to the public at large. How standards are applied and who protests such application, will say a lot about the organizations doing the banning and the protesters. But nothing will say more than the hypocrisies which will undoubtedly abound.

Related First.One.Through articles:

Uncomfortable vs. Dangerous Free Speech

Stopping the Purveyors of Hateful Propaganda

Selective Speech

The Press Are Not Guardians of the Galaxy

The Noose and the Nipple

New York Times Confusion on Free Speech

Alternatives for Punishing Dead Terrorists

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Join Facebook group: FirstOne Through Israel Analysis and FirstOneThrough

2016 FirstOneThrough Summary

2016 was dominated by the US presidential election, additional terrorism in Europe, and a United Nations that continued to attack the Jewish State. Readership interest in FirstOneThrough continued to grow.

FirstOneThrough published 133 articles in 2016, down from the 2015 total of 151 articles. Despite the fewer posts, the number of visitors jumped by 35% year-over-year.


Israel and the United States continued to lead the readership, accounting for 70% of the views overall, down from 73% in 2015. The drop was due to the readership in Israel being flat, while readership around the world grew. Visitor growth from English-speaking countries was significant: Canada (+49%); United Kingdom (+46%); Australia (+14%) and South Africa (+125%). Overall, readership from those countries jumped to 18% of the total, up from 15% in 2015. Other countries that also saw an increase in viewership included: Netherlands; France; Germany; Sweden; Norway; and Brazil. Brazil saw the greatest increase year-over-year, jumping 167%.


The most popular stories of 2016 were:

The Invisible Anti-Semitism in Obama’s 2016 State of the Union

Jared Kushner’s Parents Donate $20 million to the First Hospital Likely to Win the Nobel Peace Prize

UN Media Centre Ignores Murdered Israelis

The Countries that Acknowledge the Jewish Temple May Surprise You

Sanders Accuses Israel of Deliberately Killing Palestinians

New York Times Grants Nobel Prize-in Waiting to Palestinian Arab Terrorist

The Only Religious Extremists for the United Nations are “Jewish Extremists”

The New York Times Thinks that the Jews from Arab Countries Simply “Immigrated”

Al Jazeera (Qatar) Evicts Jews and Judaism from Jerusalem. Time to Return the Favor


In 2016, Facebook became an even more important source of viewers, jumping to 60% of referrers from 46% in 2015.  Search, The Jewish Press and Twitter continued to be the next important sources, but Facebook did not take share from any of those categories, as much as other referral sites.

Some of the global sites that have linked to the FirstOneThrough blog include:

Jewish Issues Watchdog
Jews Down Under



Audiatur Online




SMA-Norge has taken information without properly sourcing the information and link to FirstOneThrough

Denmark also used information with properly sourcing FirstOneThrough



Shiloh Musings
Anne’s Opinions

Black Kettle

Jewish Press
American Thinker
CAMERA (not used properly as not sourced to FirstOneThrough)
The Israel Forever Foundation
Legal Insurrection
The Truth About Guns
Watching Over Zion
DusIzNies (not used properly as not sourced to FirstOneThrough)
TeaParty Community
Exposing Modern Mugwumps
UN Trendolizer
Jewish Refugees 

Please continue to encourage others to join the blog.

Wishing you a wonderful 2017.

firstonethrough 2 10




The Noose and the Nipple

I am confused about society’s and social media’s decisions on censorship. In particular, why do forums like Facebook and YouTube permit showing brutal murders while they block nudity?

On Facebook today, I had a video pop up of a mob killing a woman in Afghanistan because she supposedly burned a Quran. Over the past weeks, YouTube has shown videos of the Islamic State beheading people and setting others on fire. Boko Haram is shown executing people and throwing them off bridges.

Yet a nipple is considered nasty.

According to Facebook: ““We restrict the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content – particularly because of their cultural background or age.” Excuse me? At what age is viewing a beheading OK?

Facebook continues on its community standards page: “We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring.” Oh, Thank goodness Facebook- I guess breastfeeding is somehow more natural than an unaccompanied breast. And I’m sure youngsters will be less traumatized seeing a breast with post-mastectomy scarring than pre-mastectomy.

Our laws prohibit a woman in Utah from showing her tatas, but permit enormous billboards with guns and violence for all to see.

What censorship calculation shows a gay man hanging in a noose in Tehran, but won’t show a woman’s nipple in Times Square?