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Facebook: “Sorry” For Deleting Post on Abuses in Syria

Facebook: “Sorry” For Deleting Post on Abuses in Syria
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The human costs of the uprising in Syria are unfathomable. At least 15,800 people, both civilians and soliders, have been killed since March of 2011 and thousands more injured. There have been frequent reports about torture and human rights abuses.

So it is all the more appalling to hear that Facebook has deleted a post about human rights abuses in Syria. On Friday, Article 19, which advocates for freedom of speech, found out that a status update with a link to a Human Rights Watch report about 27 alleged torture facilities in Syria had been removed from its Facebook page. The posting read

@hrw publishes a shocking report into #torture in #Syria including geo-tagged detention centreshttp://ow.ly/bZ6Yl ^OS

Facebook has apologized, but the deletion by an unnamed moderator is especially troubling, in view of the number of advocacy groups who rely on the social media site and of the high regard Facebook won for its part in spreading information and connecting activists in the Egyptian Revolution. As in other cases of deletions, Facebook did not explain why Article 11′s status update was removed and, in its apology, said that “the organization concerned should try posting the link again.”

But Dr Agnes Callamard, the executive director of Article 19, was understandably outraged. Facebook sent neither a warning about the deletion nor an explanation about why the status update was found to “[violate] Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.” Said Callamard in Agence France-Press via Raw Story:

“The deletion shows the looming threat of private censorship. We commend Facebook for creating tools to report abuse, but if your post was wrongly deleted for any reason, there is no way to appeal. Facebook don’t notify you before deleting a comment and they don’t tell you why after they have. Facebook act like judge, jury and executioner.”

“Facebook is now widely recognised as a quasi-public space and as such has responsibilities when it comes to respecting free speech. They can’t just delete content without some kind of transparent and accountable system. International law says that censorship is only acceptable when it is clearly prescribed, is for a legitimate aim – such as for public health – and is necessary in a democracy.”

Certainly it is ironic that a prime example of a regime that is not “transparent and accountable” is the Syrian regime, which has been under the family of President Bashar al-Assad for decades and is ruled by a single party, the Ba’ath Party.

But the regime has experienced what French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said was a “harsh blow”: Manas Tlas, a Syrian general close to Assad’s inner circle, has defected to Turkey with his family. Tlas was a top leader in Syria’s elite Republican Guard, which is directly commanded by the  inner circle of the presidential palace. His father, Mustafa, is a former defense minister of Syria and now resides in Paris. A Sunni Muslim, Tlas has been a close friend of Assad. According to the BBC, he has been under house arrest since May 2011 because he “opposed the security solution that the regime has been implementing.”

Friends of Syria Meets In Paris; UN Issues Report About Observer Mission

A Friends of Syria conference was held today in Paris. 107 countries demanded tougher sanctions against Syria and also urged the UN Security Council to adopt the six-point peace plan of special envoy Kofi Annan, under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter which refers to economic, diplomatic, travel and communication measures.

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44 comments

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6:29AM PST on Mar 2, 2013

Thank you for sharing.

6:25AM PDT on Sep 9, 2012

Facebook have deleted pictures of a mother's son because he is disabled.
Facebook have deleted images of pictures painted by Anders Zorn ( famous painter) because they were nude.
Facebook deletes anything anyone reports as inappropiate without checking it out by themselves.
Facebook is a farse that let people attached other users to whatever groups they create, without asking permission. I'm on FB to keep in touch, but log in less than once a month. It's so friggin boring to see all those ads and suggestions of friendship of people I've hardly heard of let alone know.

7:53PM PDT on Jul 10, 2012

If something is wrong or misleading,it may be deleted or edited but should be resorted in good faith and preferably giving notice/notices through emails and should be rarely done and FB should only take decision but it should not under any pressure from outside.FB in addition to a social site is like a channel or news paper so it should maintain its independence.

10:29PM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

sad....censorship is counter productive.....

7:03PM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

I just checked out the post on the Human Rights Watch page on FB--the post is there, but one reason why it may have been deleted is that that post is heavily trolled. Looks like a small group has been spamming the comments with pro-Syrian govt. propaganda. Very, very sad situation there. Hopeless even. The blood-lust and crimes against humanity is like a demon party and no one can stop it.

7:32AM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

@ Sandy E.: "Facebook...REALLY? Obama is working HARD to bring down America and we are worried about Facebook?"

Get real Sandy and get your head out of your butt. If you want to see censorship and the destruction of the middle classes in America and the permanent establishment of elitism in America, just vote for Romney, his Republican cohorts own by corporation and the TeaParty crazies.

5:34AM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

FB is a little out of control...

6:15PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

Censorship is a tricky road to maneuver. The Nazis started banning and burning books in the 1930's. Heinrich Heine wrote "When books are bunrd in the end people will be burned too." He was right for it happened in the concentration camps. All sides of the story must be told.

3:12PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

censorship at it's best, if you don't like the post, they just delete it.

2:33PM PDT on Jul 7, 2012

wtf??

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