Facebook censors news about Facebook censorship: who knew?

Well, of course it would: why would anyone think anything different?

Except this time, they seem to have revealed something new, subtle and disturbing about the future of censorship, and it is this:

You will be silenced – and you will never know you have been silenced

Which is really very scary indeed.

So here’s what happened

A week or so back, Facebook pulled an iconic image of a naked young girl, victim of napalm bombing in Vietnam. In doing so they censored posts from leading Norwegian writers and anti-censorship campaigners. So the editor of Aftenposten, Norway’s main daily newspaper posted to object: and they censored him.

Then Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg stepped into the fray with a post objecting to Facebook censorship and – you’ve guessed it – they pulled that too.

This week’s censorship

I wrote about this in the Telegraph and Aftemposten were sufficiently impressed by what i wrote to ask me to write an op-ed for them. That went up this morning – here is a link to an English version of the piece – and it goes a bit further than the usual anti-Facebook censorship rant. It argues, i hope coherently, that this is becoming a culture war with Facebook, between the happy smiles, seeking to impose a particular set of US values on the rest of the world

You know what comes next. Or rather, you don’t, because Facebook’s response so far has been interesting.

First, they appear to have removed posts referencing this article from two closed groups – both focused on censorship.

Second, and far more serious, they appear to have run interference by showing it as page not available in the TL of some friends, while asking others to grant explicit permission to review the post that i tagged them in.

I have checked back: at least two of those whose attempts to view this piece were impeded in this way have never switched on tag review – the facility that makes this happen – and do not have it switched on now.

That’s interesting. Very.

Because while censoring stuff outright gets Facebook a lot of bad press, this softly softly approach, making it difficult to see or access material achieves much the same thing – but without all the attendant fuss. Because, of course, the person censored never knows they have been censored.

I reached out today to Facebook for comment/explanation: they have not responded.

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About janefae

On my way from here to there
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