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."

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    Jake, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 7:37am

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Poster, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 7:46am

    Facebook: We love our userbase so much, we're going to protect them for their own good.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. identicon
    Dan, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 7:52am

    I would suggest that his own bad behavior and arrogance are more likely the cause of disenchantment. Like most self involved people he could not possibly admit his own culpability and must look for another culprit. He gives the impression that he resides on a plane above other mortals and is immune from the rules of common society.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    ., Dec 16th, 2009 @ 8:25am

    Egg throwers.

    I miss them, they were funny people LoL

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 8:50am

    Has he started legal action the store that sold the statue yet?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Lucazade, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 9:05am

    Old news

    The politician in question has already clarified that no special laws or censorship is planned for introduction anytime soon ( -11de-8d37-00144f02aabc.shtml - in Italian). Maybe because there are already people manipulating FaceBook in favour of Mr Berlusconi by changing groups' names without notifying subscribers ( 1de-b930-00144f02aabc.shtml - again, in Italian)

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 9:07am

    Wanna hear a joke?

    The Italian Legal System

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Yakko Warner, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 9:18am

    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).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 9:18am


    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. icon
    Overcast (profile), Dec 16th, 2009 @ 10:38am

    WTF did any of that have to do with Facebook? Unless the (LOL) 'media' is leaving details out.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 11:57am

    guess we're gonna need a bigger statue to set this nutter's head straight

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    known coward, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 12:16pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    Niall (profile), Dec 16th, 2009 @ 2:37pm


    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...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Niall (profile), Dec 16th, 2009 @ 2:53pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Stefano Quintarelli, Dec 16th, 2009 @ 3:10pm

    The italian government has clearly said there are no plans for new rules/laws

    read these 5 lines of the gov. party deputy for internet stuff

    the issue is about education; the provisions against racial or social hate speech are already in italian laws.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    :), Jan 18th, 2010 @ 4:27pm

    Re: On the flip side...

    Agree that hate speech should not be encouraged but that is societies responsibility and not the government.

    People inside society should deal with those kinds of speech not by government mandate.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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