The social media platform says that human error and ‘technical glitches’ can cause your pages or content to be taken down
We all know our privacy is at risk on social media platforms like Facebook — but your freedom of speech is in jeopardy too. Facebook, the world’s largest social media platform, has been removing some political content from the platform and does not appear to have a clear understanding of what it considers objectionable.
Buzzfeed reports that last week Facebook disabled several prominent Palestinian journalists’ accounts after complaints by other users who apparently disliked the political commentary.
Facebook pages for six pro-Bernie Sanders groups were removed in April, and in July, Facebook briefly pulled the infamous Facebook Live video showing Philando Castile dying after being shot by police at a traffic stop.
In August, the company suspended two Libertarian Facebook pages for days.
So what’s going on here?
Facebook offers various excuses for taking down pages or content, ranging from “technical glitch” to human error.
“The pages were removed in error and restored as soon as we were able to investigate,” a Facebook spokesperson said about pages managed by the Palestinian journalists.
Facebook admits “we sometimes get things wrong,” according to a spokesperson, which apparently was the case when the video of Castile dying was yanked from the site without explanation, but later reinstated.
Buzzfeed notes that Facebook has suppressed free speech by taking down significant pages at least four times in six months. That suggests the company has a flawed policy for deciding what is objectionable or no policy at all.
For now, Facebook keeps defending itself with the same old repeated statement: “Our team processes millions of reports each week, and we sometimes get things wrong.”
The process usually starts when a Facebook user issues a complaint online about content by flagging it for review. That triggers a review by a Facebook employee and clearly objectionable content such as nudity is swiftly removed according to the site’s community standards guidelines. What’s not so easy is deciding when political commentary is objectionable, and what to do about truly useful content, such as the Castile video that shed a clear light on the problem of police shootings.
For now, Facebook is just saying that it will keep trying to do better.