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Facebook Furore

According to Andy Newman, and others, Facebook has closed down several left-wing activist groups’ pages, including that of Socialist Unity, ‘on the pretext that it is apparently technically against the terms of use to operate an account that does not belong to an individual’.  Some commenters are suggesting this is a storm in a teacup, and that people have been breaking Facebook’s own terms and conditions, having two accounts using different names, for example.  But it does look, at first glance, as though there might be some selective application of the rules going on.  And yet, at the same time, I find it hard to imagine a scenario which involves the deliberate targeting of such FB pages.  When the UCL occupation website says ‘collaboration with the authorities cannot be ruled out’ my instinctive response is scepticism.  Perhaps, for example, there has been a very widespread clampdown on rule breakers, and activists are only focusing on their own pages, creating an impression that they are being targeted. Is it more naïve to believe that this is deliberate or that it is simply a coincidence?

Update Here’s an explanation offered by Eyal in the comments.  I think most, though not all, commenters thought this sounded like a reasonable explanation.

For the past few months, Facebook has been implementing a policy of removing all accounts (i.e. one that you have to send a “friend request” to) that do not belong to individual (i.e. real) people, and having all causes, fan sites, groups, etc moved to “pages” (i.e. one that you click “like” on).

This is not something specifically targeted at fringe leftists, but a general policy, and I have seen it mentioned on numerous occasions (which is the reason I know this little bit of trivia in the first place).