Facebook takes down activist groups' profiles
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Deutsch: Facebook löscht Profile von Aktivisten
Facebook has just deleted about 50 UK activist groups' profiles and users' accounts without any notification to the owners of the accounts.
While the reasons are not very clear, a possible explanation being that the respective groups have technically breached their terms and conditions by using a "profile" rather than a "page", there are suspicions that Facebook might have acted after a law enforcement complaint and the purge could be linked to the wider crackdown on protest by authorities in Britain. In any case, Facebook's action is questionable especially as the platform performed the takedowns without any notification. Facebook exercises a significant power over political activity and speech.
EDRi-member Open Rights Group asks Facebook to responsibly correct the situation by contacting the users of the deleted accounts and working with them to transfer their contacts and other information to the format that Facebook considers appropriate to reinstate the suspended pages (with the technical changes such as addition of organisation URLs), to create a notification system rather than directly deleting accounts and to put in place a process to migrate from a "profile" to a "page".
Facebook did react and has lately notified a number of profile owners about migrating their profile to a page, as it does have such a process. But the idea is that we should be able to understand the risks of using such powerful platforms as Facebook and that the lack of alternatives will only lead to increasing their power and to a gradual limitation of our autonomy and power. A solution would be to use self-hosted, open source platforms in order to avoid reliance upon corporate power structures.
A number of people from the groups that had their accounts deleted have just signed up to the experimental Diaspora, through independent co-operating "pods" like My Seed.
Diaspora, just like other open source social platforms, is intended as a network of independent servers, each hosting some users, who can move between them, and talk to people using other servers. Although only at its beginnings, this approach may lead to decentralised, privacy-friendly and censorship resistant platforms.
Corporations may not protect your free speech and privacy (1.05.2011)
Facebook political takedowns: Burying bad news? (29.04.2011)
Over 50 political accounts deleted in Facebook purge (29.04.2011)