An outsider California Democrat looking to run to replace Gov. Gavin Newsom, should the recall effort against him succeed, says he had a post taken down by Instagram after he suggested the incumbent might be a "weanie baby."
The elementary school rank-out generated tens of thousands of likes and hundreds of shares, said Kevin Paffrath, a California real estate agent and social media personality known as Meet Kevin. In the post, he declared his intent to run for governor, and it was his most successful Instagram message to date, he told Fox News Wednesday.
But then it went down, he said, and he received a notification claiming it violated Instagram’s harassment guidelines.
Those guidelines state that content cannot target "private individuals to degrade or shame them," cannot include identifying personal information and cannot contain "intimate images" or threats to post such content.
"This is like 3-year-old language here, I mean, ‘weanie baby,’" Paffrath said in a YouTube video following the deletion. "Harassment and bullying?"
Hours after Fox News inquired about the missing post, a spokesperson for Facebook, which owns Instagram, said it had been removed erroneously and that it was restored once the error became apparent. It was visible on Paffrath’s feed as of Wednesday evening.
And an identical post on his Facebook page had not been taken down to begin with.
Initially, Paffrath said he suspected the social media giant’s donations of tens of millions of dollars to Newsom causes played a role in the removal of his post. But the California-based Facebook noted those funds went to coronavirus relief for health care workers and small businesses and not to the governor’s campaign coffers.
"This was part of our broader pandemic relief support, both nationally and around the world which has included free ads for health authorities to get accurate information to people and grants to small businesses," a Facebook company spokesperson said.
Newsom's office declined to comment.
When told the post had been reactivated, Paffrath expressed surprise and said he had not been notified.
"As soon as the truth gets out things clean up," he said. "And that’s pretty much the theme of what I wanna do as governor as well…everything will be transparent through social media and YouTube. So the shady stuff’s gotta get cleaned up, and that’s the only way it starts."
Paffrath, a self-described "Underdog D" Democrat, accused Newsom of failing to behave as a leader as the state faces ongoing crises in homelessness, housing, transportation and education.
As rules and regulations get tighter, and rents and taxes climb, workers and businesses alike are leaving the Golden State in unprecedented numbers, he said.
He even referenced the exodus in his gubernatorial announcement ("I’m not F&$King leaving. I’m running instead!)
"We've been talking about leaving for the last three years," he said. "And it's always been a serious consideration because it is impossible to do business here."
In his real estate business, for example, he said he was stuck sitting on 12 vacant units for months upon months amid the statewide housing crisis because of bureaucratic red tape.
"The government feels like this cancer that you can't get rid of," he said. "…And the sad thing is the cancer doesn't even like itself. The people working, the teachers, the people working for unions, the people working in building and safety departments, they're miserable, too, because they don't want to work with miserable people, making other people's lives miserable."
The latest social media tussle with Newsom comes months after his state was revealed to have used influence to suppress certain speech surrounding the 2020 election. That program affected the conservative group Judicial Watch as well as the nonprofit newsroom that brought it to light.
For Paffrath, resuscitating California requires getting rid of Newsom first.
"Newsom’s got to go," he said. "You’ve got to have some extreme action to try to streamline the progress of this state."
When told that millions of voters may not see rolling back stringent regulations as extreme, he laughed.
"It's common sense," he said. "But unfortunately, common sense has become associated with extreme in California."