Italian Politician Blames Facebook For Berlusconi Attack; Facebook Begins Self-Censorship

from the well-that's-nice dept

By now you’ve probably heard that Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was attacked with a statue last weekend. Apparently, his political friends have decided that Facebook and Twitter are to blame for this, and they’re now considering laws to crack down (even more than already) on what is allowed on such sites. Perhaps aware of how Italian prosecutors are still pushing forward with criminal charges against Google execs over a single video on YouTube posted by some kids, Facebook apparently was quick to respond that it will happily monitor and censor content on the social networking site that relates to Berlusconi.

As the CSMonitor article points out, Berlusconi owns a significant portion of the media business in Italy, and the internet is often viewed as a problem because he hasn’t been able to control it. Thus, this may just be another political move to try to gain more control over dissenting voices online — and it’s a shame that Facebook would so easily play along. Update: The politician in question has apparently clarified his remarks to say that there is no plan to introduce new internet legislation. Really. Of course, one could easily interpret the original statement as a trial balloon — and the resulting outrage leading to the “clarification.”

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Comments on “Italian Politician Blames Facebook For Berlusconi Attack; Facebook Begins Self-Censorship”

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Jake (user link) says:

I’m going to reserve judgement on this until we find out exactly what the Italian government is proposing to do. Amending their existing laws on soliciting acts of violence so as to definitely cover stuff posted online would be pretty reasonable, if next-to-impossible to actually enforce. (I’d kind of hope Facebook tries to screen out stuff like that anyway.) Making it illegal to reveal in advance where the Prime Minister is going to be… would be a bit less reasonable, even if I could see how it would make him a lot safer.

Something else occurs to me, however. A plastic model of Milan cathedral strikes me as an odd choice of weapon for a premeditated attack; a brick would have been just as effective and a good deal easier to conceal. It’s equally likely that the perpetrator (who has a history of mental illness according to the BBC) simply happened to be in the area and saw an opportunity. Not much Facebook could have done about that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

How about the company/artist which made the statue, and those that sold the raw materials to them, the subject of said statue, etc. etc.

While I don’t condone the violence, it seems to me this is yet another set of politicians who are seeking to lay the blame elsewhere rather than trying to figure out why people dislike them so much. They (all politicians) really need to read up on the writings of people like Jefferson and Adams and realize that if they don’t correct the situation, there may be a time when the whole lot of them will be the targets of pieces of lead. Having done so myself, I think that Adams and Jefferson would both be amazed that in 200+ years (depending on when you start counting), we have only had one revolution in this nation.

Lucazade says:

Old news

The politician in question has already clarified that no special laws or censorship is planned for introduction anytime soon ( – in Italian). Maybe because there are already people manipulating FaceBook in favour of Mr Berlusconi by changing groups’ names without notifying subscribers ( – again, in Italian)

Yakko Warner says:

If I owned Facebook...

…I would happily monitor and censor content by happily blocking Mr. Berlusconi’s access, and consider filtering all IPs registered to Italian legal departments.

After all, if he found my service so dangerous and offensive, it seems like the most reasonable course of action — stop offending him, and continue to provide service to everyone else who don’t seem to have a problem with it (or, at the very least, recognize it for what it is — a communications platform, rather than a malicious entity).

Niall (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Apparently it’s because of sites like Facebook being hotbeds of ‘lack of sympathy’. ( So of course they have to be censored. Berlusconi is so used to censoring the Italian media that he really can’t keep from doing the same to the internet. Shame for him that the internet (ideally) interprets censorship as damage and routes around it…

known coward says:

Facebook just doesn't want

the chinese to block them, so they show they are ready and willing to accommodate any governments ‘suggestions’. None of these companies give a rats’ ass about your rights. I would not argue they should, they are in the business of providing a service for money, and one billion service opportunities can never be wrong.

Niall (profile) says:

On the flip side...

Again, to be fair, a lot of people are saying some very nasty stuff which shouldn’t be allowed in any (civilised) country. It’s one thing attacking someone’s politics or personal morals, it’s another calling for his injury or death. Hate speech should never be encouraged – but let’s hope there are no over-reactions on the part of the Italian authorities.

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