Patrice Riemens on Wed, 4 May 2011 10:31:39 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Facebook censors 50 protest groups in the run up to the royal wedding

> Hey thanks for circulating this news, Merijn,
> Just to add that the groups targeted in the purge have now also set up a
> petition site and a blog, and no, these are not on Facebook.


As I could find very little about this story on MSM (Main Stream Media), I
tried a little bit harder and found this story (for what it's worth,
comments welcome):

Hell, crackdown by the evil Facebook! Shutting down student protest! In
cahoots with the authorities! Even Evgeny Morozov is onto it: (Morozov

Look folks, this was a problem waiting to happen. Here?s why.

Take the story on the UCL Occupation blog:

    "There appears to be a purge of political Facebook groups taking
place. Profiles are being deleted without warning or explanation."

Am I supposed to trust a rant that mixes up the Facebook terminology in
the very first sentence? Therein ? I think ? is the root of the problem.

The accounts that have been purged are Profiles ? i.e. organisations that
behave as people on Facebook. The UCL Occupation one ? still in existence
for now ? is still up, but a bunch of other have been deleted. Some more
are listed here at Open Democracy.

In short there are three main ways to be on Facebook:

   1. With a profile ? intended for real people, with a name
   2. With a group ? a small to medium size group of people discussing
   3. With a page ? ?Like? something to get news updates from it

As far as I can determine no groups or pages have been deleted, only
profiles, and all the profiles were not individual people, they were being
used by organisations. Not only is this stupid (as I?ve previously
explained here) but it violates the Facebook terms of service. So no leg
to stand on if one is deleted.

Now was the reaction of Facebook right? Probably not ? the owners of the
profiles could have been contacted, suggestions made to convert the
accounts into Pages etc. Just deleting profiles generates a strong counter
reaction. Someone undoubtedly informed Facebook of the breach, and got the
accounts shut down. Facebook, as a company, has form for these sorts of
things ? it?s to hegemonic to care about individual users.

But ? frankly ? I have often done the same, and I?m sure many people have.
When political opponents of mine have bee using profiles rather than pages
I report them to Facebook. I of course don?t report accounts of
organisations I agree with, and just send them a friendly message to warn

In conclusion, there are errors on both sides here. The accounts in
question broke the terms, and Facebook behaved insensitively, but we
should not have expected anything else. The lesson: if you do want to use
this unpleasant, money making, American walled garden for your political
protests, at least learn to use it properly before you start out!

[UPDATE - 1.5.2011] By the look of it my take on events was more or less

[UPDATE - 2.5.2011] I?ve now found The Guardian?s take on the story, and
it?s even more inaccurate than the initial UCL blog post. It?s not that
complicated folks!

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