Facebook Assists Iran’s Suppression of Dissent
Occupy Bawl Street has asserted that “companies like Apple, Google and Facebook have decided that protecting citizens from theoretical academic privacy intrusions is more important than helping the government protect citizens from the very real danger of Islamic Jihad.”
Ironically enough, it now appears that Facebook policies in particular are aiding the Iranian government’s suppression of opposition. In short, Facebook is restricting pages that Iran wants censored and endangering activists who try to remain anonymous for safety reasons. For example, Tavaana.org fights for academic freedom in Iran by providing on-line education about democracy, women’s rights and the separation of religion and government: issues censored by the Islamist Iranian government. Tavaana’s founders report how Facebook has accused Tavaana of “community standards” violations because the Iranian regime causes false violation reports to be filed en masse:
As it happens, the Iranian regime, much like the Chinese and Russian governments, is adept at mobilizing trolls to report activity it doesn’t like. Facebook inadvertently becomes the morality police, and that will always work to the advantage of tyrants.
The same tyrants benefit from other well-intentioned Facebook policies. The prohibition on anonymous users, for instance, has kicked off thousands of activists who use pseudonyms to protect their own safety. Whistleblowers, advocates for political prisoners, rally leaders, labor activists, feminists and bloggers all use the platform to organize without detection. But in addition to eluding dictators, these activists must also worry that Facebook employees (or data machines) in Menlo Park, Calif., will detect that their names are not real.
The problems are not simple, but with all the ingenuity and dollars that Facebook has at its disposal, surely it can find a way to discern between those who need its help and protection and those who don’t. For many, the hope of a free future depends on it. Facebook, Please Don’t Let the Mullahs Troll Us By MARIAM MEMARSADEGHI & AKBAR ATRI Wall Street Journal 11/25/14
Leftist American groups are well-known for gaming the Facebook TOS violation system to suppress speech from those on the political right. However, the minimal difficulties conservative users face with Facebook’s TOS reporting system takes on greater import where the user is opposing an Islamist government. Surely the brainiacs at Facebook can figure out a way to recognize orchestrated attempts to silence free speech. – Grizzly Joe