Posted by Kristin McCarthy on January 19, 2017 in Blog
Last summer, the Arab American Institute joined more than 70 civil rights organizations in pushing Facebook to explain and improve its censorship of content. Many activists from social justice movements like the Black Lives Matter movement, the Dakota Access Pipeline protestors, and the Palestinian solidarity movement have complained about content being removed from Facebook without cause. When challenged about the troubling censorship Facebook cited Community Standards, but we wrote to demand more information and improved practices.
Facebook issued a response to our questions late last year, but the coalition of communities – including AAI, Color of Change, SumofUs, the Center for Media Justice, ACLU, Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Dream Defenders, and Jewish Voice for Peace – are not assuaged in our concerns about discriminatory censorship of vital activism. Instead of acknowledging our concerns and addressing our recommendations, Facebook VP for Global Policy Joel Kaplan simply explained existing policies of Facebook’s Community Standards, policies which we are well aware of and find lacking.
The coalition wrote back to Facebook last week about our remaining concerns and urged Facebook to take meaningful action to change their practices around censorship. The campaign aims to keep pressure on Facebook to address this recurring and consequential practice. As SumofUs campaigner Reem Suleiman says, “Some of this is life or death. People turn to Facebook to document human rights abuses and police brutality.” Indeed, instances where live streamed police encounters are removed or when Palestinian journalists have their accounts closed without warning or specific reason, Facebook’s actions can be extremely consequential.
Please join us in keeping the pressure on Facebook to address the broad issue of policy concerns, but also with specific instances of content removal or account closures that are questionable. Facebook is an important forum for citizen journalism and social justice movements. By pressing Facebook to explain and improve its policies, we can protect its importance.