We are getting used to read news everyday about the exercised censorship such as unpublishing of group pages, deletion of Facebook Accounts and expurgation. All together they’re pointing to the severity of the situation. Especially closing down/suspending pages of the political groups or deleting the contents without showing valid reasons are threats to the freedom of speech.
The pages of unity groups created for Labour Strikes, the page of Ötekilerin Postası (Others’ Post – an Alternative news channel with tens of thousands of supporters), pages of Kurdish Groups and Legal Political Parties such as BDP (Peace and Democracy Party) are being shut down one by one by Facebook citing irrational/unexceptable reasons.
Facebook unpublished (banned) these pages citing reasons such as “content containing nudity, pornography or sexual solicitation.”, “violation of copyrights”, “damaging brand image”, “terrorism and violence propaganda” but these reasons are extremely questionable, defined by the existing political atmosphere, far from being objective and suitable for the patterns of common rationality. Meanings of the mentioned reasons differ from country to country, even differ in a country with multiple time zones. The meaning attributed to “terrorism” in Turkey is very vague. In the recent history of Turkey we have lots of examples of lawsuits that sometimes consider as acts of terrorism and sometimes not.
It’s unacceptable for an online social network with a global population to be subjected to this kind of non-objective auditing.
Moreover, the auditing process based on this “questionable reasons” appears to have a double standard. The pages that belong the supporters of the Government Party are swarming with the propaganda materials of Al-Qaeda and Al-Qaeda linked groups. Countless pages with the contents of hate speech and inciting hate crime against every marginalised communities, individuals or groups all over the world go on with their lives on Facebook. In Turkey, Kurdish People, Armenian people, Alawite people, LGBT individuals, Conscientious objectors, Football Supporter Groups and lots of other communities face hate speech publicly and sometimes this hate speech leads to deaths and mass lynching attempts that Turkish people have witnessed time to time in the history of Turkey. Refusing to see what hate speech prompts and applying auditing measures primarily on the pages of the marginalised communities, demonstrate that auditing measures of Facebook are highly subjective and have double standard. Please be informed that the statements that we’ve made about these pages don’t indicate that we are in favour of shutting down these kind of pages. Censorship and restrictions should not be considered to be a solution ever.
The networks like Facebook should not be ruled by the fear of dominant ideology but the priority of the fundamental rights and freedoms of the citizens. Facebook was created by its users and can only survive with them. So, priorities of citizens must be the priorities of Facebook.
We condemn Facebook Administration for their censorship policy and invite them to act as an objective administration, to stop taking sides with the government and show respect to the fundamental rights of the citizens such as freedom of speech and privacy.
Facebook is a multi billion dolar company trading shares on the stock market and the source of this huge wealth are the users sharing posts in Facebook.
We invite all citizens to be aware of the policies of Facebook, to respond to the censorship incidents that they faced or experienced and share them especially with our association or the foundations and individuals that are relevant to this matter and participate and support the acts of protest which we will demonstrate in the future.
We must protect our internet to expand freedom of expression and organization. We must try to diversify our living space on the internet. We should not allow commercial monopolies like Facebook to limit internet and our usage practice.
September 4th, 2013; Alternative Informatics Association