The groups were involved in organizing protests against British austerity measures (which refers to the British government’s move to lower taxes for corporations and the wealthy while cutting funds for items such as education). Such groups had been organizing peaceful protests in recent months across England, including in London.
In response to accusations that Facebook’s actions were politically motivated, the social network issued a formal response via email, explaining that the pulled profiles violated the site’s rules:
As you may know, Facebook profiles are intended to represent
individual people only. It is a violation of Facebook’s Statement of
Rights and Responsibilities to use a profile to represent a brand,
business, group, or organization. As such, your account was disabled
for violating these guidelines.
If you would like to continue representing your organization on
Facebook, we can convert your profile to a Page. During this process,
all the friends of your profile will be converted to followers of your
Page (i.e., people who like it). In addition, the account associated
with your profile will be converted to a business account, from which
you can administrate your Page and your ad campaigns.
If you use this account to manage any groups, please note that you
will lose your administrative rights to these groups once your profile
is converted. To prevent this from happening, we recommend appointing
a new admin to each of your groups before beginning the conversion
For further information regarding this process, visit the Help Center, here:
When you’re ready to convert your profile to a Page please respond to
this email at email@example.com
If you have additional questions regarding Facebook products and
features, please visit our Help Center, here:
Some, such as Jon Wilkins, a professor at the Santa Fe Institute, speculate that Facebook was not specifically targeting the protest groups and that the social network may have been provided a list of violating profiles that may have been politically motivated. In that case, Wilkins adds, Facebook was merely acting on the information it was given.
Not all agree. In one post, Emma Woollacott quotes Jim Killock, executive director of the London-based Open Rights Group, saying (sic), “Facebook are exercising very significant power over political activity as a result of their huge user base.”
But, hold on a minute. When did anyone out there think that Facebook is not powerful? Let this be a useful reminder to all of us: Facebook is a corporation, one that has built a platform where millions of loyal (some may say addicted) users regularly engage with one another. All users would do well to remember this.
Readers, what is your response to accusations that Facebook removed U.K. activist group pages?
Image courtesy of Associated Press.