Cataloging Political Censorship on Facebook

As many readers are by now hopefully aware, the widely used social networking site Facebook has shut down a group in support of FARC-EP prisoner Ricardo Palmera. Further, not only has the Free Ricardo Palmera group been shut down, but its administrators also had their personal accounts disabled. But how wide spread is this problem on Facebook? For some time now there have been complaints of Facebook deleting fan pages for left-wing figures such as Lenin and Fidel Castro, but there have been four more recent events that should be worrying to anyone concerned about censorship on Facebook.

Free Ricardo Palmera

The Free Ricardo Palmera group on Facebook, which had some 700 hundred members from around the world, especially the Americas, was shut down on the 30th of June. The group had become an important information sharing tool for people concerned about Palmera’s case and injustices in Colombia more generally. On top of deleting the group Facebook also disabled the personal accounts of the group’s three administrators, Josh Sykes, Angela Denio, and Tom Burke.

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Support Campaign

A group set up by the Workers Party of New Zealand in order to support the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine was also recently shut down by Facebook. The group had been formed in the aftermath of the Israeli attack on the Gaza relief flotilla and had around 500 members. Like the Free Ricardo Palmera support group, this group was also deleted. The same treatment was also given to the group’s administrators.

Peruvian People’s War Support Page

Along with the two above groups and their administrators, an activist from the Philippines also had his personal profile deleted after a row with Facebook. This person is now on his second Facebook profile, his first one having been disabled when he set up a page supporting struggles in Peru. This particular person is now very active in voicing support for those that Facebook is silencing.

Boycott BP

Finally, and perhaps the most egregious, given the size of the group, the Boycott BP, with something in the area of 800,000 members was also recently deleted. Set up following the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, this group advocates for, as the name would imply, a boycott of BP and BP products. While the group was later reinstated after much lobbying by outraged members and other supporters, it is perhaps the most telling example of Facebook’s censorship of left-wing political causes, both because of it large size, and because of the content (which should not be surprising given current circumstances), which expresses a sentiment very popular in the population.

Combine the above examples of left-wing causes that have been silenced by Facebook with the long running reports of far-right pages advocating racism, Islamophobia, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia etc., not being shutdown and you get an excellent picture of in whose corner Facebook really stands. Facebook is out to make a buck, and it means silencing progressive causes while allowing the existence of hate groups (who violate the terms of use), then they have shown themselves more than happy to do so.

We must fight political repression on Facebook. If you have been given a warning, had your account disabled, or know of anyone else who has experienced this, now is the time to speak out and take action!


Posted on July 8, 2010, in Anti-Police, State Repression. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Thanks for your support, Rowland!

    Free Ricardo Palmera!
    Stop Facebook Censorship of Progressive Causes!

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