Facebook regularly censors documentation of human rights abuses, including videos of police violence. Working with law enforcement under the Obama Administration, one may think we are living in a China-style censorship society.
This week we celebrate a huge victory by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe against the Dakota Access Pipeline. Millions of people first heard about Native American water protectors and their struggle through Facebook. But Facebook often removed live footage of police violence against the water protectors.
Some are working to put a stop to this government censorship under the Obama Administration through an online petition to Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.
There are many reported incidents of Facebook’s censorship, including: censoring accounts of activists covering the civilian uprisings in Charlotte, NC; the removal of live footage of water protectors against the Dakota Access Pipeline; and reports that Facebook sent data to help police track and surveil protesters in Ferguson, MO and Baltimore, MD. Facebook has also reportedly censored conservatives.
Facebook’s videos and platform are powerful tools to document human rights abuses. And we’ll need them more than ever under the new presidential administration.
Facebook needs to stand firm now and be accountable to the public, including by clarifying its policies on removing content at the request of government actors. Facebook cannot be an arm of the police.