Facebook censorship

WARNING: This post contains graphic content.

What a joke.This morning when my alarm went off I noticed a random notification asking me to go to the settings on my phone and enter my Facebook password. I was confused. I did as requested, only to receive the following message: 

Again, I did as requested. And received the following message:

Facebook asked me to refer to its ‘Community Standards’ page to ensure my account stayed in good standing. And to remove further content that may be in breach. 
So curious as I was, I decided to read why my account might have been blocked and what content might cause it to be blocked again. I suspect the  justification for the restriction was the graphic content of the image posted. However, I know for a fact that the particular story with the image attached was shared 4 times from the Gaza TV News page and once from my page, yet it was only my content that was removed. Of course, it would cause too much controversy if Facebook blocked a media company reporting out of Gaza. But me? a little old nobody in NZ, insignificant. My guess, is that it has nothing to do with the image although this was the excuse used to restrict access to my account. I have been particularly vocal on my account and have expressed my condemnation of the Israeli attack on Gaza. I have not attacked Israeli’s nor have I made any racist remarks. I am not anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli or anti-Semitic. I am against the tactics employed by the Israeli government and the propaganda used to justify the murder of innocent civilians in Gaza. I am against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and the oppression of the Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli government. 

Admittedly, the image is extremely graphic, but if this was the reason for removing the content from my account then surely every account that posted the image should have had the content removed? Right? Wrong. I can still access the story on Gaza TV News and other pages.

Here is what Facebook Community standards say about graphic content:

It appears that while a media organisation may share graphic imagery, the privilege does not extend to individuals. If an image is considered not to balance the needs of a diverse community on one Facebook page, then it does not make much sense that it should be allowed to remain accessible on Facebook via other pages. Selective balance. Additionally, perhaps Facebook thought I derived some sadistic pleasure out of sharing the graphic content? F* off Facebook. I made it clear that I shared the image because down here in little old naive NZ our government is turning a blind eye to the atrocities suffered by the Palestinian people of Gaza. I included a message to that extent when sharing the objectionable content. 
So what’s really going on Facebook?  I’m hearing from various sources that Facebook has restricted access to many Gazan’s or those expressing support for Gaza or Palestinian’s in general, I even note that Harry Fear (Documentary Maker, Activist, Journalist) was blocked from his Facebook account when he first started reporting live in Gaza. Facebook claiming it was administrative error. 
I was pure and simple censored for expressing views that were not complicit with the US position on Gaza. Facebook is as crony as any other massive corporation and will continue to suppress information sharing where it disagrees with what you have to say. 

I also want to briefly mention that in order to prove that I was the owner of my account, I was asked to identify people tagged in particular photo’s. I’m not sure about the rest of you, but I don’t systematically trawl through all my friends photo’s so this seemed like a complete farce when I was asked to identify the person tagged in the following photo:

I have never seen this photo. There were also photos of babies I’d never seen, and photos that friends had been tagged in by people that aren’t my friends, but your actual friend wasn’t even in the photo? Stupidity.

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5 comments

  1. The image would have been reported – as you mentioned, you're a 'nobody' from the bottom of the Earth ( I mean that as nicely as possible). Facebook doesn't really care what your political opinions are, nor is there some conspiracy to suppress anti-violence messages. In all likelihood, someone's seen your post clicked 'report' and they're dealt to it accordingly – I wouldn't be surprised if an algorithm did all the work.

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  2. I have heard through a friend that many people she knew were experiencing problems on Facebook regarding their opinions on Gaza. Interesting is the number of people you might consider "friends" whether close or not, who would anonymously complain about or report your content, rather than simply telling you they were offended or taking other measures by blocking your feed or simply de-friending. I was lucky to have a couple of friends who were open enough to just state the particular image was in their view unnecessary, for whatever their reasons were. I valued those opinions provided they were not suggesting I censor my own opinions. My concern is that limits on free speech are being endorsed by those lacking the courage to express the opposite view or at least to express their disapproval for whatever reason. There is something wrong with being able to limit another persons freedom of expression 'anonymously'. We are seeing the issue of limits on free speech hotly debated in the UK at moment. I seriously hope such a stance is not made in NZ (as a caveat, I do accept some limitations to freedom of expression, i.e. where such expressions are intentionally or even recklessly used to incite violence).

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  3. Perhaps – but aren't you confusing the sphere of social media? It's not a public space, it's a privately owned and provided service. Facebook has some fiduciary duty to its shareholders and arguably such mechanisms to remove potentially damaging content. While this may not be executed, in our opinions, consistently (given the multitude of offensive pages etc still on facebook) it would be somewhat counter-intuitive to argue that freedom of expression should trump private property rights in terms of promulgating democracy or liberty. I'm sure Facebook's reservation of the right to manipulate content is outlined in those Terms & Conditions you agreed to when signing up.

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  4. That's true. I do get your point. In my view, Facebook is a public space, its just not publicly owned and this is evidenced through the various mechanisms available for when you want content on your page to be displayed privately versus publicly and your ability to join open groups, like public pages etc. The terms and conditions regarding privacy relate specifically to personal information that Facebook hold about its users that can be hidden from the public view, but that Facebook may use for various purposes. In terms of content, the community standards indicate that freedom of expression is a cornerstone of Facebook with the caveat that they must balance the diverse needs of the community and therefore reserve the right to remove content contrary to those values. These are the issues I guess for internet law that are currently being debated. Social media sites are freely available with the sole purpose of sharing information left to the individual to determine if such content is for public or private display.I am aware of the various pages inciting racism, hate and violence and yet some of those pages Facebook refused to remove because they did not deem them hate speech, yet a user acting anonymously was able to censor on my page content readily available on other pages. I'm not suggesting freedom of expression should trump private property rights they are equally important rights, but I doubt it was a shareholder with a property interest in Facebook that reported my particular post. If so, they would have removed the original source and all other sources of that content. Initially, I thought Facebook had censored me, but I have been advised the most likely culprit was a user on my Friends list. (Sorry about the long and convoluted response!)

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