Yuma Sector Border Patrol Agents patrol the Colorado River near Yuma, Ariz., on Feb. 22, 2019. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection photo by Jerry Glaser)

Agent Who Promotes Border Patrol Work Has Page Removed by Facebook

A Border Patrol agent who writes about his experiences as a migrant of Mexican descent who joined the agency says his Facebook page was removed without any explanation from the social media giant.

Sergio Tinoco, who writes a column for HSToday, wrote the memoir Proud American: The Migrant, Soldier, and Agent. He is a 10-year Army veteran and has been with the Border Patrol since 2005.

In the past two years, Tinoco’s Facebook page amassed more than 40,000 followers and likes. “The past two years have been exhaustively dreadful when dealing with individuals in your company who have done everything in their power to harass me at every turn. And why?” he wrote in an email to Facebook, asking that the page be reinstated. “Because I have posted the facts of what truly happens at the southern border and all the tough work that our courageous men and women in Border Patrol do with regards to border security — national security.”

Tinoco told HSToday that he hasn’t received a reply from Facebook in the nearly two weeks since his page has been disabled. He has a personal Facebook account that is still active, but the “Proud American” page is no longer visible as a page linked to his profile.

“No warning ever,” he said. “No message informing me of any violation nor which post caused the violation.”

Tinoco said Facebook had previously restricted him from inviting people to like or follow his page, but this is the first time his page has been suspended or deleted.

He said he’s received no indication of whether the action has to do with Facebook’s third-party fact-checking program “to help reduce the spread of false news and other types of viral misinformation, like memes or manipulated photos and videos,” as Facebook VP of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg described the process in a September post.

Facebook fact-checkers rate posts as false, mixture, true, false headline, not eligible (such as an opinion page expressing an opinion), satire, opinion, prank generator, or not rated (i.e., if the link is broken). Pages deemed to repeatedly publish false news are subject to removal from Facebook, though the guidelines say publishers can dispute their ratings.

“Freedom of expression is an absolute founding principle for Facebook. Since day one, giving people a voice to express themselves has been at the heart of everything we do,” Clegg said. “We are champions of free speech and defend it in the face of attempts to restrict it. Censoring or stifling political discourse would be at odds with what we are about.”

PERSPECTIVE: A Border Patrol Agent’s Illegal Father and the Lesson of a Lifetime

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Bridget Johnson is the Managing Editor for Homeland Security Today. A veteran journalist whose news articles and analyses have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe, Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor and a foreign policy writer at The Hill. Previously she was an editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and syndicated nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. Bridget is a senior fellow specializing in terrorism analysis at the Haym Salomon Center. She is a Senior Risk Analyst for Gate 15, a private investigator and a security consultant. She is an NPR on-air contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, New York Observer, National Review Online, Politico, New York Daily News, The Jerusalem Post, The Hill, Washington Times, RealClearWorld and more, and has myriad television and radio credits including Al-Jazeera and SiriusXM.

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