Facebook to women: Lean In! (But don't touch our narrative)
Seven years ago, Facebook chief operating officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg launched her Lean In initiative to empower women in the workplace. Hoping to break the cycle of male domination and the condemnation of ambitious women it generated, Sandberg urged women to speak candidly about their ideas and to step forward fearlessly into leadership roles. Her book-that-created-a-movement established women's networks that survive to this day.
Too bad that the concepts Sandberg articulated — particularly with respect to the importance of speech — do not prevail at the company through which she exercises enormous power. Censoring conservative female writers like Michelle Malkin and Pamela Geller appears not to be enough for Facebook hacks. Instead, articles that feature women — many of them highly qualified — are up on the chopping block when their brilliant protagonists arrive at conclusions contrary to the narrative Facebook seeks to promote.
Consider the COVID crisis. When America's Frontline Doctors, including Simone Gold and Stella Immanuel, spoke about their patients' encouraging results with hydroxychloroquine, Facebook posts featuring their Washington press conference were flagged as "fake news," with the video surgically excised from most internal locations. Posters including this writer were told we'd shared false information and were encouraged to click a link to the WHO for the real story. Given that the WHO messed up the contagion calculus in the first place, who'd trust it for more advanced work?
It's noteworthy that while Lean In circles promote diversity in race, religion, and culture, Frontline Dr. Immanuel's status as an immigrant woman "of color" did not spare her from Facebook's censure.
How might women be empowered to speak when their voices are stifled?
If female doctors who promote hydroxychloroquine raise the ire of Facebook censors, imagine what might happen if a female M.D. implicated the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the virus's creation.
You don't have to. On Monday, September 14, Chinese virologist Dr. Li-Meng Yan, who recently fled her native Hong Kong for the West, posted a link to research in which she and her colleagues suggested that COVID was created in a laboratory — not in a "wet market" as the CCP regime has told the world. As a medical scientist working in Hong Kong, Dr. Yan had firsthand knowledge of the researchers and their studies, and had been told, by her own superiors, to keep quiet about what she'd learned.
As expressed in her paper, Dr. Yan's knowledge also encompassed the steps taken by researchers at the Wuhan, China laboratory to ensure that the "infectivity and pathogenicity of the laboratory-made coronavirus" were enhanced.
Dr. Yan spoke up! Facebook's response? "False Information," read the text on Facebook's dark window shading the article I'd shared from The National Pulse. Facebook offered a "See Why," and I clicked to find that "Fact Checks from Multiple Organizations" proved its assertion. In chronological order, Facebook noted articles averring a "bogus conspiracy theory" (Jan. 24), a "baseless conspiracy theory" (Feb. 7), and a virus that was "not man made or engineered" (March 21).
In other words, all refutations of Dr. Yan's groundbreaking research occurred about six months, or more, before she'd posted her link. And all were refuted by those anonymous guardians of the public interest, Facebook's fact-checkers.
When might Facebook air a conscientious rebuttal of Dr. Yan's arguments? Probably not until the cows come home. Or until the bats fly back to their Wuhan caves.
Meanwhile, Lean In, women! Please read our list of approved topics before you find your nametag at our leadership table.
Barbara G. Grant is an electro-optical engineer, author, and teacher. Her website is www.grantdrone.com.