A viral message shared on Facebook warns users that the social media company is proactively removing the share button from any post that is "pro-Trump" in a front against freedom of speech.
The post features a large "NOTICE" banner above the warning that says, "Facebook is removing the SHARE button from Pro-Trump posts. This is how Democrats kill Free Speech. Tell Facebook this is not acceptable in a FREE Society!!!"
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
There is no evidence that supports the claim that Facebook is censoring pro-Trump posts so they cannot be shared. The platform’s algorithm may downgrade posts to show up lower in newsfeeds if the content is rated false by third-party fact-checkers, such as PolitiFact and others, but it does not remove the option for users to share the post if they come across it.
The warning message began to appear in spring 2018 after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg appeared in congressional hearings to answer questions after a data leak shared more than 50 million Facebook users’ private information without their permission. During those hearings, a heated exchange took place between Zuckerberg and Sen. Ted Cruz when Cruz accused Facebook of suppressing conservative content.
But when searching through content with public settings, we could not find posts that didn’t include a share button, regardless of the nature of the post.
Brendan Nyhan, a political scientist and media critic who studies public misinformation and fake news, said he hadn’t come across this particular claim in his research. And technology researcher Ben Decker, who specializes in investigating digital disinformation efforts, told PolitiFact that the Facebook claim "plays into a much larger adversarial narrative about how big tech ‘censors conservatives,’" that he has detected. But Decker also referenced a Snopes article from earlier this year that rated the statement false.
Facebook spokesperson, Lauren Svensson, also told us the claim is inaccurate.
"There’s no validity to this, Svensson wrote in an email. "If someone is not seeing a ‘Share’ button on a post, it could be because the original poster has set the privacy of that post to ‘Friends only’ or a narrower audience."
A Facebook Help Center article that explains how to share posts on news feeds expands on this:
"Keep in mind that you can't share posts to people who weren't part of the original audience (example: a post shared with ‘Friends’ can’t be shared with ‘Public’)."
We rate this "warning" False.