April 29, 2011 | Jim Killock

Facebook political takedowns: Burying bad news?

News has broken today that a number of activist groups pages and user accounts on Facebook have been deleted, mostly from the anti-cuts movement.

While these groups may have technically breached their terms and conditions by using a “profile” rather than a “page”, these deletions do not appear to have happened elsewhere in Europe or the USA, which has led to suspicions that Facebook may have been acting after a law enforcement complaint. As the deletions took place on a news day dominated by the Royal Wedding, this has further fuelled suspicions.

Whatever the reason, Facebook are exercising very significant power over political activity and speech as a result of their huge user base. While we as users should ask ourselves whether we are content with that, we must also ask Facebook to act with full corporate responsibility. Their policy of simple takedowns, without notification, strikes us as crude on their part.

We are compiling a list of accounts suspended here.

We are calling on Facebook to:

  1.  Work with these users to transfer their contacts and other information to whatever format Facebook regards as reasonable (eg, users to pages)
  2. Reinstate the suspended pages, with whatever technical changes such as addition of organisation URLs;
  3. Devise a notification system rather than simply deleting content;
  4. Devise a process to migrate “profiles” to “pages”

UPDATE

Facebook seem to have, after the fact, notified a number of profile owners about migrating their profile to a page, and they clearly do have such a a process. This is very welcome, although we reiterate that advance warnings would be more appropriate.