On 26th of November, another important (more than 10K protesters) anti-government protest took place in Bucharest.

This looked like a regular protest for 2017, but this one had something peculiar: many Facebook users that had activity related to the protests (live videos, sharing, posts etc.) found their accounts blocked.

This is not the first protest that it is also promoted using social media (virtual events, live videos etc.).

Facebook put the blame for this highly unusual event on a technical glitch. However several dozens journalists or bloggers indicate that the real cause is related to being "reported":

Dozens of Romanians complained this week that they were no longer able to use or share ideas on their Facebook pages after posting or distributing comments related to the street protests organized in Romania last Sunday, November 26. Most of them said they were informed that their posts were labeled as “spam suspect” or that they apparently broke the community’s standards” by “incorrectly using” some instruments available on the social network.

Clearly, the issue is not clarified, but assuming that affected Facebook users are correct, I am wondering:

Question: Has Facebook’s (or other social network) block policy been abused to limit freedom of expression (e.g. within the proximity of political protests) inside European Union?

I searched for this and found only an example from Russia (or Ukraine).

I find this issue particular interesting because it might the first case of "hybrid" approach to political protests inside European Union.


Has Facebook’s (or other social network) block policy been abused to limit freedom of expression (e.g. within the proximity of political protests) inside European Union?

Absolutely not. Freedom of expression only means that the government may not prosecute citizens for public statements that they make, within certain boundaries. However private companies are free to limit the freedom of speech on their own private platform in whatever manner they see fitting. People who don't like their policies are free to migrate to another platform or open up a website of their own.

Now, things would be different if it were shown that Facebook has been pressured into censorship by the Romanian government, but until that happens no laws have been violated and no one's rights have been abused.

  • 1
    The wording is not precise in my question. I am not implying that the government has anything to do with this Facebook issue encountered by many journalists and bloggers. But since many claim that they have been "reported" on Facebook, it looks like an orchestrated action from a group: ensure that multiple "spam" reports are being made to the same account so that "abuse" policy kicks in and temporarily blocks most of the functions of that particular account.
    – Alexei
    Dec 3 '17 at 10:17
  • @Alexei if it's coordinated by the government, it's a problem. If not, it has nothing to do with the freedom of expression. Dec 3 '17 at 10:18
  • 2
    @Alexei again, you assume that there is some sort of an inherent right for people to publish their ideas on Facebook. There is no such right and there has never been such a right. At worst it's a cybercrime against Facebook if someone uses bots to spam Reports. Dec 3 '17 at 10:24
  • 5
    @JonathanReez - that is utter nonsence. Freedom of speech in US law specifically is only limited to government actions. Freedom of expression in general is a much wider political/philosophical/ethical concept and is not limited to government action (and any opposition to it is purely political. As a random example, imagine if someone tried to privately shout down, or shut down, a speech by Martil Luther King, Jr. - which if I vaguely recall, actually happend. Do you still maintain that it was not infringing on freedom of expression just because he wasn't prevented from speaking by feds?)
    – user4012
    Dec 3 '17 at 19:07
  • 2
    @JonathanReez: So assume that the facebook company is claiming to garantee that moderation of its social network is not politically biased, which I am quite sure they do. You can rephrase the question as follows: Is there no contradiction between what they claim and what they do ?
    – Distic
    Dec 4 '17 at 13:17

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .