Mafia Bosses Could Cause Italy's Blocking of Facebook

Looks like being a mobster-lover doesn’t pay off in the world of Facebook. Italy has proposed a law for blocking Internet access to websites that incite or justify criminal behavior, and thanks to some Facebook groups that support notorious Italian mob-related criminals that means that Facebook could in fact be blocked in Italy.

According to Bloomberg, Facebook hasn’t seen the actual proposal, but its existence is concerning. The bill has already been passed in the Senate, and would give the Interior Ministry to power to order Internet providers in Italy to remove criminal content within 24 hours, or face a fine that could reach upwards of $300,000.

There are a couple reasons why Facebook should be concerned that the Italian bill is being considered. It potentially infringes on what some would consider basic rights regarding the freedom of speech, and it also makes Italy look more and more like a dictating state. And justifying criminal behavior could also become a maze of legilative jargon, which gets even more tangled when you consider the online realm where certain sites and companies are based in countries outside of Italy.

Is a Facebook fan page created to support a known criminal considered criminal content? And if so, should Facebook really be blocked from Italy because of such fan pages?

It seems that Italy would do better to try and work with Facebook itself in order to curb criminal behavior online. Facebook already regulates groups and fan pages to a certain extent, in order to curb against malicious or otherwise largely offensive content. And Facebook has also been active in removing the fan pages for mafia bosses Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano that sparked the controversial bill proposal in the first place.

While it’s difficult enough to regulate speech, especially online, it seems rather extreme to block an entire network or platform for a specific incident such as controversial fan pages. If this bill goes through, I think it will raise even more concern for the Italian government, spurring a great deal of backlash and contributing to the woes ofglobal growth that social networks like Facebook already face.

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