UPDATE: Facebook folds, rescinds ban on children's book publisher after conservative backlash
After notifying upstart children's imprint its account was "permanently disabled" for advertising illustrated biographies of Ronald Reagan, Thomas Sowell, and Amy Coney Barrett, the social media giant now claims the censorship was an "error."
The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook
Facebook did an abrupt about-face Monday after conservatives shamed the social media platform for punishing a right-leaning book publisher.
The Big Tech giant restored the ad account for Heroes of Liberty, a new children's book company celebrating icons like President Ronald Reagan and Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett in print.
The company, which publishes illustrated biographies of notable figures, poured most of its marketing budget into Facebook's targeted ad capabilities to boost its Nov. 14 launch.
"We wanted to build a community around our mission, and the biggest social platform in the world seems like a good place to establish our brand," said Bethany Mandel, an editor and board member of Heroes of Liberty.
Facebook blocked her company's ad account Dec. 23, and Heroes of Liberty swiftly appealed the move. Facebook's reply? It permanently disabled the account, citing its "disruptive content."
"We never thought we would be banned," said Mandel, noting her company invested most of its marketing budget on the social media giant. "If we thought it would be possible, we wouldn't have chosen Facebook to start with."
The block happened before the social media giant removed a post by Georgia Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene over the weekend for allegedly violating Facebook's policies.
Mandel said Stone, who previously served under progressive Sen. Barbara Boxer and with the House Democratic campaign arm DCCC, shared the update with prominent conservatives like Fox News' Brit Hume, Mary Katharine Ham and "several members of Congress," but not her or anyone from her company.
"They only reinstated us because we made a big enough stink," Mandel said. "We're not even important enough to notify."
A "Hero of Liberty," according to the company, "is a person who either promoted freedom, faith, or family values, or lived a virtuous life of self-reliance, creativity, or devotion in light of those sacred principles."
A casual observer would notice these "Heroes" speak to right-leaning consumers — although plenty of children's books extol left-leaning figures like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and President Barack Obama.
Mandel, a right-leaning columnist for Deseret News and Ricochet, says her company's initial Facebook ads drew furious responses from select users despite the innocuous nature of the copy. ("Christmas is here, and it's the perfect time to celebrate with your children … celebrate family, celebrate freedom, celebrate America!")
One user suggested burning the books in question. Another brought up President Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal.
"We think our books speak for themselves; they aren't ideological or political," Mandel said. "They're just good, wholesome stories." Future "Heroes" include John Wayne, Margaret Thatcher, and Alexander Hamilton.
Facebook did not respond to JustTheNews' initial request for comment, nor a follow-up query on how such an "error" happened in the first place.
The Facebook cancellation temporarily left Heroes of Liberty without six months' worth of valuable audience data, the kind companies leverage to market their wares.
Scrambling to reassemble its business model following the unexpected ban, Heroes of Liberty quickly instituted a new subscription model allowing the company to send a new title to consumers on a monthly basis.
News of the cancellation has had one positive side effect, Mandel says.
"We have been approached by many influencers and organizations that want to help us spread the word," she said. "It's a setback, but the demand for good children's books that are not woke is massive, and we need to be there, we just have to."
Mandel finds solace in recent events, including the 2021 election results in Virginia, where parents revolted against progressive school measures and elected a GOP governor, Glenn Youngkin, over Democratic veteran Terry McAuliffe.
"Americans are fighting to change the school system ... but before we look outside, we need to look inside, to our homes," she said.
Former President Donald Trump, removed from Facebook and Twitter following the Jan. 6, 2021 riots at the Capitol, slammed the social media giants in a statement shared on Jan. 3:
"Marjorie Taylor Greene has a huge constituency of honest, patriotic, hard-working people. They don't deserve what's happened to them on places like low-life Twitter and Facebook ... They're boring, have only a Radical Left point of view, and are hated by everyone. They are a disgrace to our nation."
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