Facebook's “spam cleaning” narrative is beginning to crumble as the silenced voices refuse to stay silent. One such voice is that of Purple Heart recipient Brian Kolfage, who was featured in the 2012 documentary “Sea of Inspiration: The Brian Kolfage Story”. Before we delve into the atrocities committed against him by Facebook, it is important to put a face on the victim to remove the dehumanization of being labeled a spammer.
“Everything I’ve been through – losing my legs – Facebook clearly thought I was going to be OK with this and go away. This is going to turn into a PR nightmare for them.”
As a Senior Airman in the United States Airforce Brian Kolfage volunteered for a front-line mission Ballad Air Base, his second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On September 11th 2004, a 107mm mortar rocket exploded just three feet away from him blowing off both his legs, mangling his right hand, and throwing him over 30 feet in the air. He was rushed stateside to Walter Reed Medical Center, where he was in a coma for 3 weeks before recovering; he was told by the nation's top specialists that he would never walk again. An incredible story of survival that set several records including the fastest medical transport from Iraq back to stateside where, after 11 months of grueling physical therapy, he became the first human being to regain the ability to walk with his level of amputation. Brian went on to become the first triple-amputee to successfully ski down a black-diamond trail in the Rocky Mountains. To this day, Brian Kolfage is the most severely wounded U.S. Airman to ever survive a war.
"I was fully conscious after my friends rolled me over on my back. I remember every detail like it was yesterday. I wasn’t in any pain at first. I remember being pissed because I knew what happened, and how it happened. I looked at my hand and it was hanging by skin like it had been chewed off. My hand was folded backwards and hanging. I tried looking at my legs but my friend Sr. Airman Cortez put his hand over my eyes so I wouldn’t see. I told him to just get me home."
Despite his tragic fate and life altering injury, Brian continued to serve with the 355th Security Forces Squadron at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tuscon Arison. Brian also served his community as an adviser to Congresswoman Gabrielle Gifford for the Veterans Advisory Committee and was a guest speaker at the 2012 Presidential State of the Union address. Upon retirement Brian enrolled in the University of Arizona's School of Architecture under the most prestigious military scholarship, the Pat Tillman Scholar Award, where he graduated in 2014 with honors at the top of his class and a 3.8 GPA. In 2014, the Wounded Warrior Project presented him with the George C Lang Award for Courage for his continued service in mentoring other wounded veterans.
"The hardest thing I encountered was literally dealing with having to learn how to re-live my life. I had one hand and no legs, everything was different. Putting clothes on, brushing my teeth, shaving left handed, zippers, buttons, unscrewing lids, caps, tying and untying knots, etc, all the little basic things we take for granted became a huge task for me and there’s hundreds more too."
Brian settled down, got married, and had two wonderful kids with his wife Ashley. He became involved with news publishing and social media, and before long he managing Facebook pages for various news outlets. One of those outlets was RWN, a political news outlet with over 3.6 million followers. Brian spent years cultivating content and moderating an increasingly large community, until one day Facebook arbitrarily decided that his viewpoints were not acceptable for the platform.
“I’m not a ‘conservative.’ I’m not a ‘liberal.’ I’m an American, with deep beliefs in what our country stands for. I proved this by fighting for America, knowing I may not return home. My life was spared, but I paid for freedom with one arm and both my legs. I’ve given limbs, I’ve stared death in the face first hand. I’ve seen my legs blown to pieces and lost friends. Losing my limbs meant comparatively little to me because I gave it fighting for what I believed in; I believed America was the greatest country because we had freedom... and I’ve seen what oppression looks like. My sacrifices are nothing compared to what previous generations made in WWI, WWII, Korea and Vietnam.”
Over the years preceding the censorship, Facebook routinely hounded Brian to spend more and more money to promote his page and the brand through their in-house advertising platform. Brian naively invested a total of $315,000 towards this effort, only to see it all come crumbling down in the blink of an eye. He was given no reason, no explanation, just the standard and dehumanizing “Your Page Has Been Unpublished” notice that so many other page administrators were greeted with on Thursday. Unlike many of the other victims of the Facebook purge, Twitter didn't follow suit with Brian Kolfage but the damage is irreparable.
"My income as a father and husband is threatened. This isn’t the right to free speech I gave my legs and arm to defend. Three limbs wasn’t enough for some.. now my livelihood is gone with it. Facebook took down our Facebook page, cutting off all contact we had with the millions of people who signed up to follow us, the millions of people who liked what we were sharing online. We had a coveted, verified blue check mark 3.5 Million fans, and I invested over $300,000 in ads at Facebook’s own request, nearly begging us to spend spend spend just to reach our fans... whom they kept making more difficult to reach with every passing year."
The fact is, Facebook was in regular communication with Brian given his level of investment into their platform. He was assigned an account manager, Katy Harbath, and frequently addressed issues ranging from advertising to clickthrough rates and spammers. “We were really big on following the rules. We were not “spamming,” we were not using fake accounts, we were not doing anything wrong”, said Brian. Not content with silencing his political views, Facebook also unpublished an unrelated page with no rational, cutting off all communication and failing to reply to his repeated inquiries to Ms. Harbath.
"Facebook also deleted my other business page. I own a coffee company called Military Grade Coffee Company [which donates 10% of all profits back to veteran organizations]. We don’t post politics, we sell coffee and support veteran charities. Facebook is maliciously attacking my way of life because of my beliefs, and they don’t care. The New York Times even stated that Facebook made this calculated move to silence thousands of voices (and millions of forwarded messages) because of the upcoming midterm elections."
Unlike many of the other silenced voice, Brian Kolfage is not without the tenacity and resources to fight for what he believes in. He was able to reach out through his personal Facebook profile page, and has made it clear that he is in this for the long haul:
“If I have to roll into their headquarters and sit there with people in the media, I will. I will be there exposing everything they’ve done to me and my family and our employees. We’re going to take legal action if we don’t get our pages back. It’s just going to turn into a sloppy mess for them. I think they’ve underestimated what they’re dealing with, attacking me, attacking conservatives in general, right before the elections. Never once did Facebook come to us to say there was any issue with RWN or our other pages. Never. But they sure loved taking our money.”
At Unfollo, we find the actions taken against Brain Kolfage and others like him to be absolutely despicable and abhorrent. We believe a social platform should be predicated on two core values: absolute privacy and freedom of speech, agnostic moderation without consideration of political biases. We've built a replacement for Facebook & Twitter and it is fully functional... while it is still being polished by a dedicated and passionate expert development team (passionate enough that we all work for free), we welcome our readers to join us in our monumental effort to take on the giants.
The future of our platform is like no other, and will be discussed in-depth with our next article. For a couple teasers: our iOS and Android apps are being polished, and our revamped monetization platform is almost ready to be launched. It will greatly reward our users for their referrals, instead of your private data being the product. We are growing fast, but to accelerate our growth we are also currently offering ten cents per referral... just sign up & check your “Invite Friends” page for your own link. We will only ever have non-tracking and non-invasive static advertising, because we believe your privacy is a fundamental human right. We can't sell your data, because we don't collect your data.