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.

Filed Under: extradition, filtering, richard o'dwyer, tvshack, uk

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  1. icon
    Bergman (profile), 19 Apr 2012 @ 8:10pm

    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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