Hercules vs. Goliath: Actor, film producer Kevin Sorbo’s Facebook battle.
Kevin Sorbo, star of the hit television series “Hercules,” space odyssey “Andromeda,” and Christian fan favorite, “God’s Not Dead,” has been disappeared by the speech police. Without warning, Facebook banished the actor/producer’s popular Facebook page with 500,000 fans. “I don’t know who these lefty trolls are…,” he tells Die Weltwoche. “They can come after anybody at any time.”
He’s played Hercules, son of Zeus, the king of gods. He’s led thrilling deep space adventures as “Captain Dylan Hunt” of the “Andromeda.” But not even television action hero and Christian film star Kevin Sorbo can escape Facebook’s internet tyranny and social media black hole.
Two weeks ago, with no explanation or warning, the global platform deleted Sorbo’s popular Facebook page which boasted half a million followers. Earlier this month, the online behemoth had announced its new policy to work hand in rubber glove with the Biden administration to promote the Democratic White House vaccination and coronavirus agenda and slap down needling dissent. Facebook claims they gave the right-wing actor two warnings and a 48-hour caution for “repeatedly sharing debunked claims about the coronavirus or vaccines.” Sorbo says it never happened.
A long time friend of the Sorbo family, I contacted Kevin to get his side of the story. I reached him at his home in Florida where he and his family have found political refuge after years in Southern California (also known as the “Left Coast”). In our twenty minute cell phone chat, Sorbo assures me, “I’m not trying to be some conspiratorial guy, but this is a strange control over our lives.”
According to Sorbo, Facebook’s obsession with his account started last year with the coronavirus pandemic. He began suspecting that the secretive tech giant was shadow banning his posts, limiting their visibility. Whereas Sorbo’s right-leaning Facebook musings had previously generated “anywhere from 20,000 to 200,000” engagements, “likes” and “shares” suddenly plummeted.
Facebook’s demands intensified when the 62-year-old began posting comments, articles, and studies critical of the coronavirus lockdowns and research driving the draconian policies. “They would come in and say, ‘Hey you can’t do this,’” Sorbo tells me, wryly noting, “This is their version of fake news.’” Wary of losing his massive following and valuable marketing tool for projects like his new documentary, “Against the Tide,” Sorbo readily complied. “Every time they asked me to take something down, even though there was truth in it, I just said ‘You know, I don’t need the headache.” But post facto deletes proved insufficiently deferential. As Sorbo sees it, “They just wanted to get rid of me because I was questioning what we were doing with COVID and the destruction of businesses.” Sorbo claims that, if given the chance, he would have been “more than happy” to take down the allegedly offending posts as he had before, but he was never informed of running afoul of Facebook’s latest, pro-Biden policies. A show trial with no summons and no show, Facebook lowered the virtual guillotine.
Sorbo tried to launch a fresh page of non-political observations and humor. But after just five posts it, too, was deleted. According to Facebook, attempts to create new pages, even if they follow Facebook’s rules, are considered sneaky end runs. In other words, their target is not the offending content but the deplorable author. Meanwhile, the same speech police that would not brook critiques of the ever evolving COVID rules, overlooks illegal drug trade — hashtag “#buydrugsonline” — even allowing dealers to use Facebook’s payment system. As one former content moderator observed in a legal complaint filed last year, “Compared to hate speech, they did not seem to worry about drugs at all.”
Getting booted from the platform with over 2.7 billion monthly users is not just a matter of free expression, it’s matter of money. As an independent film maker with his company, Sorbo relied on Facebook as a marketing tool. “I got a new documentary coming out. I got a new movie coming out. They’re actually impacting my ability to have a career.” Sorbo tells me he might consider suing the multi-billion behemoth to recover potential economic damages their ban has inflicted.
I ask what Swiss readers and 5.2 million Swiss Facebook users should understand from his experience. He answers without hesitation: “That they can come after anybody at any time.” As we just learned last week from Facebook’s sweeping news ban on Australia, with the push of a few keystrokes, they can even delete entire countries.
“I’m not looking for a fight,” Sorbo insists. “I’m a guy that wants to look at the other side of an issue.” But Facebook is more interested in directives than dialogue. “I don’t know who these lefty trolls are, these angry lefties, who took down my page. They don’t like me just because I have a different point of view.” But, he adds, “I would like to meet up and say, ‘Hey, let’s a have talk.” For now, Sorbo will have to send his invitation via Twitter.