Larry Ward will concede that he “poked the bear.” As president of the D.C.-based Political Media Inc., Ward administers the Facebook page of a group called Special Operations Speaks (SOS), an anti-Obama group consisting of “veterans, legatees, and supporters of the Special Operations communities of all the Armed Forces.” Essentially hard guys who want the president out of office. “These are the toughest sons of a guns out there and they say what they mean,” says Ward.
On Saturday, Ward woke up and realized he needed to post something on SOS’s page. He checked the news, which was still buzzing with Friday’s report by Fox News that a request for military support from besieged U.S. personnel in Benghazi “was denied by the CIA chain of command.” Ward’s takeaway was that it had become “more evident that Obama was responsible for denying the troops backup.”
Time to cook up a meme. Ward settled on a provocative one: “Obama called the SEALs and THEY got bin Laden. When the SEALs called Obama, THEY GOT DENIED.” It worked. Over the next day or so, the thing had racked up 30,000 shares, says Ward, noting that it “was by far the best meme we’d had to date.”
The meme had a touch of the mischievous in it as well. It tagged the picture of President Obama to his Facebook campaign page, a move that officially alerted Team Obama that its guy had been featured in a photo on the SOS page. In other words, it was guaranteed to antagonize the president’s supporters. And that’s pretty much what happened, in Ward’s version of events. The next steps came quickly:
*Likely driven by offended Obamaites, Facebook sent Ward a warning about the meme. Take it down, said Facebook. Ward didn’t comply.
*Facebook took down the image, with this explanation, as discussed on a Breitbart.com story on the matter:
We removed content you posted.
We removed the content you posted or were admin of because it violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.
*Ward re-posted the image along with Facebook’s rationale for removing it.
*Facebook took the image down again and froze the account for 24 hours, in effect stifling SOS on Facebook.
After all that censorship and bureaucracy, Facebook is now acknowledging that it was a mistake. Here’s the note that Facebook’s Andrew Noyes passed along to the Erik Wemple Blog: “This was an error and we apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused. They can feel free to repost the image.”