Facebook Declares BBC Article About French Political Polls 'Unsafe'

from the dave,-i-can't-let-you-post-that... dept

Lots of people have reasonable concerns about platforms like Facebook which not only provide an avenue for free expression -- but which also have the power to suddenly decide it won't allow certain forms of expression. Admittedly, there's always a line to be drawn somewhere. People are happy that Facebook tries to keep out spam and scams, but it's still worrying when it seems to want to filter out perfectly legitimate news stories. On Sunday, Nadim Kobeissi tweeted that Facebook wouldn't allow the sharing of a BBC article on the latest political polling in France.
I wasn't sure I believed it so I tried to post that link to my own Facebook page and got a similar message:
Now it's possible that there's a concern over rogue dangerous ads on the BBC site -- though for many people the BBC displays no ads at all. It's also possible that Facebook's algorithms interpret news about the National Front party (which is politely described as "far right," but might more accurately be described as nationalist-to-racist) as somehow dangerous. But, just the fact that Facebook is magically determining that a news story is somehow "unsafe" without giving me any details to understand why or how is tremendously concerning.

And, again, this comes just after we've seen American politicians calling for Facebook and others to magically determine how to block "bad" content that might inspire terrorists. And, it comes just as Google's Eric Schmidt argued that these kinds of filters should be more common. Yet, examples like this show just how problematic the idea of these kinds of filters can be.

The more pressure put on companies like Facebook to do that kind of proactive filtering, the more likely that perfectly legitimate information and news stories like the BBC story here get blocked. And that should be seen as immensely problematic if you believe in free expression and the ability to share ideas freely.
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Filed Under: content, filters, free speech
Companies: bbc, facebook

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 1:41am

    Re: Re: facebook: rigorous enforcement sometimes, blind eye other times

    "Facebook has also been deleting the accounts of people and organizations that Hollywood objects to. One recent example is the bittorrent site RarBG, which is not only DMCA compliant, but has never posted any links to content on its Facebook page."

    This one?


    or this one?


    If it's an older one, do you have any links to why it may have been removed?

    Your googling skills are seriously lacking, as a simple search for "rarbg" and "facebook" returns this Torrentfreak news article (which explains everything) as the top search result:


    Without any prior warning, Facebook has removed the official page of popular torrent site RARBG after a complaint from a copyright holder. The operator of the site scolds Facebook for the takedown, noting that they never posted any copyright infringing content on the social network.

    With millions of regular visitors RARBG is one of the most popular torrent sites on the Internet.

    Like most sites of its size, RARBG also has a Facebook presence where it keeps its users informed about the latest developments, including new features and the occasional outage.

    However, a few hours ago RARBGs official Facebook page suddenly disappeared.

    Initially, the operator assumed that there was some kind of error, but after logging into Facebook he was presented with the following message.

    “We have disabled or removed access to the following content you posted on Facebook because we received a report from a third party that the content infringes their copyright(s).

    TF spoke with the operator of the torrent site who informed us that they were careful not to link to any infringing material. In fact, until now they have never received any copyright complaints from Facebook.

    According to RARBG, Facebook simply took a copyright holder complaint for granted without any further investigation.

    Once again Facebook proved that they are not fighting for freedom of speech and they will bend over to any company that makes any copyright complaint without even taking the time to send a warning or properly investigate the issue, RARBGs admin says.

    This isnt the first time that Facebook has shut down a torrent site fanpage. Previously, the same happened to The Pirate Bay, KickassTorrents and ExtraTorrent.

    For RARBG the removal was the last straw. The torrent site doesnt plan to make a new Facebook page just to risk starting all over again a few months from now, so will simply be a little less social instead.

    Update: Limetorrents informed us that Facebook also deleted their page, which had tens of thousands of fans.


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