Blogs | On the ground | Information democracy | Freedom of expression online | Platform regulation

Facebook users blocked simply for mentioning a name?

By EDRi · September 25, 2019

Merely writing or including two words, in this case “Tommy Robinson”, in a Facebook post or link is enough to get the post removed and the writer blocked. At least it seems so in Denmark and Sweden.

Writing the name of the English right-wing activist infringes and violates Facebook’s Community Rules, a particular category aimed at so-called hate preachers including “individuals or organizations that organize or incite violence”. Other Facebook users are not allowed to support, praise or provide representation of the banned hate preachers. According to statements by Facebook’s Nordic Head of Communications, criticism of Tommy Robinson is allowed, but merely mentioning his name in a neutral context will be considered as support of the banned hate preacher.

For example, a Facebook blog post by a member of Danish right-wing political party the New Right, in which he complained that he runs the risk of being blocked by various social media if he writes the name, was removed. A Danish public broadcaster had an interview with a Facebook’s Head of Communications about the platform’s moderation policy to which they linked from their Facebook page, and it was initially taken down because it mentioned Tommy Robinson. Facebook users in Denmark and Sweden are also reporting that posts mentioning Robinson were taken down within minutes from publishing them.

A blogger from a left-wing political party was banned from Facebook for 24 hours for writing that Tommy Robinson was an “idiot” in a blogpost that also criticised Facebook’s excessive moderation policies. This suggests the removals are automated, without consideration of context, contrary to the claims by Facebook than only support and representation of hate preachers is banned, which raises a question about restrictions on freedom of expression and how we discuss and debate online.

If you write this name, you will be blocked on social media (only in Danish, 17.09.2019)

Danish public broadcaster’s interview with Facebook taken down (only in Danish, 23.09.2019)

E-Commerce review: Opening Pandora’s box? (20.06.2019)

(Contribution by Dean Willis, EDRi intern)