How Facebook May Secretly Foil Your Activist Plans
By Kevin Mathews / care2.com
Sep 18, 2013

In recent years, Facebook has become an unexpectedly crucial tool for activism. The social media platform allows activists to efficiently connect and communicate with one another in order to arrange meetings, protests and boycotts. Unfortunately, activists who once found that Facebook helped make organizing easier are now encountering obstacles – and the resistance is coming from Facebook itself.

With little explanation, Facebook has been disabling pages related to activism. In some cases, administrators who set up the pages are no longer able to add updates. In others, the pages are being deleted entirely. Understandably, activists are frustrated when a network of 10,000 like-minded individuals is suddenly erased, leaving no way to reconnect with the group.

Realistically, that’s the downside of relying on a hundred billion dollar company. Facebook is a pro-business enterprise with countless partnerships that undoubtedly pressure the site to limit the types of socializing progressives may engage in, particularly activities that might harm advertisers’ profits.

For example, this year’s March Against Monsanto events have been popular with people across the globe, but not Facebook. An upcoming invitation for a rally in St. Louis, Missouri where Monsanto is headquartered was wiped clean from the social networking site. The administrator of the event received a very unspecific notice that the event “violated Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” yet it is not clear how the event would have violated any terms. What is clear, however, is that Monsanto advertises on Facebook and may have had some influence on the matter.

When the “Boycott Target Until They Cease Funding Anti-Gay Politics” group became extremely popular, employees at Facebook didn’t erase the page, but effectively shut it down anyway by putting severe restrictions on it. Not only was the page’s creator unable to edit or update the page, followers of the page could no longer start new discussions or post links and videos. A similar page that called for a boycott on BP was also rendered similarly useless after receiving the same posting constraints.

In these two cases, Facebook personnel explained that the boycott pages did not meet the Terms of Service since they did not represent a person or corporate entity. “To protect people from spam and other unwanted content, we restrict pages that represent ideas or positions – rather than discrete entities – from publishing stories to people’s News Feeds,” said a spokesperson.

Surely the nearly one million BP boycott fans wouldn’t consider updates from the page “unwanted,” particularly when they chose to follow the page in the first place. They’re calling for protection from oil spills, not spam. By claiming that corporate pages fit in well on Facebook, but anti-corporate pages have no place, the site’s stance is quite clear.

As civil rights activist Audre Lorde wrote, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” Perhaps we’ve been naïve to believe that using a platform created by a corporate entity would help activists to break free from corporate oppression. While moving away from Facebook seems inevitable for some activists, it’ll certainly have some consequences for at least the short term. Because Facebook is so ubiquitous and its members tend to check in multiple times a day, it makes reaching a wide audience fairly simple.

That said, having proven its value in mobilizing people, social media will continue being a pivotal strategy for activists, with or without Facebook. As Facebook continues to align more firmly with sponsors rather than users, you can expect to see more revolutionaries to join alternative internet communities to promote their causes. In the future, sites like Care2.com [and Films For Action] will be even more crucial in achieving positive social change.

4.7 ·
9

Support Films For Action

Films For Action empowers citizens with the information they need to help create a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.

We receive no government or corporate funding and rely on our supporters to keep us going. ​

Donate today

 

Join Team Transition

Create an account on Films For Action and join our growing community of people who want to change the world!

Add videos, articles and more. Rate member content. Our library is powered by you.

Trending Today
How Swedes and Norwegians Broke the Power of the ‘1 Percent’
George Lakey8,549 views today ·
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett2,063 views today ·
Have You Heard of The Great Forgetting? It Happened 10,000 Years Ago & Completely Affects Your Life
Daniel Quinn1,238 views today ·
Paramedic's Response to "Burger Flippers" Making an Equal $15/Hour is Beautiful
Craig Carilli1,209 views today ·
The Hopeful Thing About Our Ugly, Painful Polarization
George Lakey1,116 views today ·
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad1,106 views today ·
This Facebook Comment About the UK Election Is Going Viral
Chris Renwick960 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min793 views today ·
When a Whole Generation of Youth "Feels Cheated," That's Something Worth Paying Attention To
Daniel Quinn697 views today ·
Load More
Join us on Facebook
How Facebook May Secretly Foil Your Activist Plans