Facebook Blocking Stories About Richard O'Dwyer's Fight Against Extradition To The US

from the sad dept

Well, this is unfortunate, though Facebook does have a history of somewhat arbitrarily deciding what you can and can’t talk about. A few years ago, we noted that it had blocked any link to The Pirate Bay — even if it had nothing to do with infringing material. A year later, we discovered an even more unfortunate situation, in that it wouldn’t allow any mention of Power.com — a company it was in a legal dispute with. However, it keeps getting worse. We’ve written multiple times about Richard O’Dwyer’s fight to prevent being extradited to the US for running a site, TVshack.net, which links to TV shows — some of which were infringing. As we noted, there are all sorts of important questions being discussed around this case, both about copyright law and the US’s influence over UK courts.

Apparently, Facebook doesn’t want you discussing any of that.

The Guardian’s James Ball wrote an interesting article about how some UK politicians are fighting to stop the extradition. It’s a good article. But, you won’t find out about it on Facebook apparently. The story details how Tim Farron, president of the LibDems, in the UK has called the extradition approval “ludicrous” and has asked the government to reconsider.

However, as James Losey discovered, Facebook won’t let you post about it — calling the article “spammy or unsafe.” Specifically, it appears that (as with TPB) Facebook is blocking any and all mention of TVShack.net. However, Facebook’s spam implementation is so stupidly programmed that it can’t figure out that this is a story about TVShack.net in the well-respected Guardian newspaper, and not a direct link to TVShack.net. And, of course, merely linking to TVShack.net isn’t against the law, so it’s bizarre, obnoxious and stupid for Facebook to be blocking all such links in the first place. Finally, since the US government seized TVshack.net nearly two years ago, I don’t think the site is really that unsafe any more, unless you don’t trust the government to keep its server clean (which, actually, might be reasonable).

Either way, shame on Facebook for hamfisted “filtering” which blocks important and legitimate discussions. Update: Facebook has fixed this particular issue, and now lets people post that story, but it’s unclear what the overall rules are.

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Comments on “Facebook Blocking Stories About Richard O'Dwyer's Fight Against Extradition To The US”

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33 Comments
Skeptical Cynic (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: All the more reason...

I agree the original was Facemash (Late 2003), but I was invited by an early adopter and did nothing but sign in. So technically my “Facebook” account is not valid until later. I only had access because of the person that was able to get access.

So Mike you are correct my Facebook account is from 2004.

Markus Hopkins (profile) says:

They just don't like Mike

I think it’s worth noting that this may have been in the course of being resolved by the time Mike posted, since in the screenshot above there are 3 “shares” on facebook already. I agree it should not have happened in the first place, but at least in this instance facebook was responsive, even if it wasn’t an instant fix.

Anonymous Coward says:

seems to me that Facebook is losing the plot more and more. about time Zuckerberg got a grip on reality, sorted out the ‘filter software’ and stopped trying to dictate what is and isn’t illegal.

but then why the hell people keep worrying about CISPA is beyond me. just carry on using Facebook. that will leak even more of a persons info

Bergman (profile) says:

Companies claim that because they don’t exert editorial control over what their users post, that the company therefore is not responsible for what their users say.

Fair enough.

But when a company starts exerting editorial control over posts, particularly posts that are about news or politics, at what point does the company lose that legal protection against being sued for slander/libel for what a user posted?

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