The privately owned incorporation, which is defined as a “social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them”, by its creator, deactivated dozens of pages created by the UK students to organize anti-austerity protests this weekend.
Other pages and profiles removed from the Facebook website included UK Uncut, and pages created by students during last December’s university occupations, causing an outcry from campaigners.
A list posted on the Stop Facebook Purge group says Chesterfield Stop the Cuts, Tower Hamlet Greens, London Student Assembly, Southwark SoS and Bristol Uncut sites are no longer functioning.
The profiles’ administrators say hundreds of links between activists have been broken in the run up to the May Day bank holiday.
“I woke up this morning to find that a lot of the groups we’d been using for anti cuts activity had disappeared. The timing of it seems suspicious, given a general political crackdown because of the [royal] wedding. It seems that dozens of other groups have also been affected, including some of the local UK Uncut groups”, said Guy Aitchison, 26, an administrator for one of the non-functioning pages.
This is while that a Facebook spokeswoman claimed “the profiles were suspended because they had not been registered correctly”.
She denied that the removal of pages was politically motivated or instigated by law enforcement concerns before the royal wedding.
The company did not confirm how many activist accounts had been deactivated on Friday morning.
However, the spokeswoman said activists would be contacted by email and told how to re-activate their accounts correctly. But, they said, this would take several days.
“It’s pretty flat-footed of Facebook to pull profiles without notifying users. Clearly, if you just take down sites without any warning, people are going to feel aggrieved, they’re going to have activities disrupted and be unable to organize politically,” said Jim Killock, 38 who runs the Open Rights Group, which campaigns for civil liberties on the net.
“It’s a pretty bureaucratic move; it’s almost impossible to know the difference between a profile and a page, so Facebook should have emailed people first and given them some notice. It’s bizarre and upsetting and it’s not a good way to treat their users,” he said.
Facebook is not suited to the purpose of organizing political causes. It may be an easy place to mobilize people, but between its capricious management and the ease of mining it for social graphs, it is an authoritarian secret policeman’s best friend and a censor’s bosom buddy, campaigners said.
- How To Delete Facebook (mademan.com)
- How To Permanently Delete Facebook (mademan.com)
- UK Uncut’s fears over clampdown on black bloc tactics (guardian.co.uk)
- How To Delete A Facebook Account (mademan.com)
- How To Make A Page On Facebook (mademan.com)
- The Demonisation of UKUncut (bitchkitten.com)
- “Over 50 political accounts deleted in Facebook purge” – it’s much more complicated (jonworth.eu)
- Facebook Pages Are Not Private, But Here’s How To Control Your Privacy Settings (lockergnome.com)