American activist Candace Owens threatens lawsuit over Facebook’s policy silencing conservative voices

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American conservative commentator and political activist, Candace Owens has threatened to sue Facebook over what she termed a discriminatory policy targeting conservative thought leaders.

This was disclosed in a letter dated May 18, 2020, written by her counsel, Todd V. McMurtry, and addressed to the Menlo Park, California-based company.

McMurtry’s letter stated that the social media giant, relying on information provided by a so-called independent fact-checker, Lead Stories, attached a “fake news” notice on a post his client shared about COVID-19 on Facebook.

Owens’ post contained a screenshot of a tweet she shared on Twitter. It read: “The number one killer in America is Heart disease. 1,002 people a day. Did you know that if you die from heart disease right now, and they determine you to be an asymptomatic carrier of COVID-19 in your post-Mortem, they legally add your death to the #Coronavirus death toll?”

McMurtry’s letter stressed that despite multiple credible sources, including Dr. Ngozi Ezike, the Director of Public Health in Illinois and Dr. Deborah Brix, a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, supporting his client’s assertion as contained in the post, Facebook went ahead to publish the defamatory notice on the post.

The lawyer stressed that by attaching the notice, Facebook falsely accused Ms. Owens of spreading false information about the COVID-19 pandemic.

McMurtry’s letter said that Facebook ought to know that Lead Stories is an “organisation that has a provable left-leaning bias and an axe to grind with conservative thought leaders like Ms. Owens who offer a fresh perspective on public issues”.

It added that Lead Stories’ post titled “Fact Check: COVID-19 NOT Being Blamed For Deaths Primarily Due To Unrelated Causes” which the social media giant relied upon to arrive at its decision to censor Ms. Owens’ post was a “vehicle to communicate Lead Stories’ own combative opinion about the U.S. Government’s methods of counting deaths caused by COVID-19”.

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“But instead of allowing these two competing opinions to coexist and be displayed as equally valid, Facebook and Lead Stories concertedly engaged in a tortious campaign to subvert the public debate in their favor by branding Ms. Owens’ Post as being “false news” and communicating “false information.” Instead of facilitating and protecting a marketplace of ideas on its online public forum, Facebook’s Defamatory Notice weaponized its platform, for reasons deeply rooted in its political ideology, for the purpose of discrediting Ms. Owens’ opposing opinion and her inquisition into the methods the U.S. government is currently using to count deaths caused by Covid-19.

“Facebook’s Defamatory Notice and Lead Stories’ Article recklessly and intentionally convey the false and defamatory gist that Ms. Owens’ is a liar, is paid to lie, and insinuate that she profits from disseminating misinformation on the internet. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Moreover, Facebook published its Defamatory Notice with actual malice. Facebook employees maintain a spreadsheet of “hate agents” containing the names of conservative thought leaders who Facebook employees actively seek to attack, discredit, and vilify. Ms. Owens’ name is on that list,” McMurtry’s letter read in part.

The letter further read, “In light of the above, I hereby demand that Facebook remove its Defamatory Notice from the internet, remove it from the Post, and remove all reference to the Article.

“Furthermore, I hereby demand that Lead Stories remove its Article from the internet. Should Facebook and/or Lead Stories refuse to comply with our request, Ms. Owens may be forced to pursue legal action against both entities to vindicate her rights, including filing an action for defamation and related causes of action.

“I further request that Facebook and Lead Stories provide written confirmation that they have complied with these instructions An later than June 1. 2020.”

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