10.29.10

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Reader’s Story: Facebook Censorship

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 9:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tiananmen Square protests of 1989

Summary: Concerning words from a Facebook user who views the site’s misuse of power over communities

Facebook, which is partly owned by Microsoft and serves Microsoft, was last mentioned here yesterday for bullying rivals using intellectual monopolies (through litigation). Facebook is said to be covered by the press more than Microsoft these days and until last year we totally neglected to deal with the threats presented by Facebook, especially to our freedom and everyone’s privacy. Earlier this year we shared compelling warnings from Prof. Eben Moglen about Facebook. One of our readers has just mailed us the following post which reminds people that Facebook is not as innocent and impartial as one is led to believe. Without further ado we quote our reader in full:

I wanted to write about an incident which just happened on Facebook. One of my “friends”, a classmate from high school, wrote some comment about Facebook doing something for not being at its “beck and call”. I interpreted his remark that somehow Facebook deleted something and I commented that Facebook does censor comments without going into the types of comments which they censor. One of my friend’s other friends replied “huh?” and another responce came that “this is generally a blessing.” Now I don’t need to explain anything because now it seems that the whole thread, starting with my friend’s original comment, has been deleted.

I also have another prior experience with this. I used to have a friend on Facebook who is Palestinian and he started a group supporting the Palestinian cause. His group was not extremist, but it was nonetheless shut down for no reason. My friend decided to delete his Facebook account (or perhaps they deleted his account too?). This incident is what I referred to in my recent Facebook posting, which was deleted even though I made no attempt there to clarify my assertion. Facebook did it for me. Thanks, Facebook!

My best explanation would be that, in the United States, they have the 1st Amendment. However, this only applies to prevent government prior restraint to speech. Private entities like Facebook are free to use censorship as they wish.

Perhaps it is time to try some other social network.

Yesterday we recommended Identi.ca, which is a good host for people who promote and understand freedom. It has many of the same features as Facebook (picture upload, groups, ‘friends’, private messaging, etc.) although there are substitutions for facilities.

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