December 14, 2020

Press release: Facebook removes accounts of political activists in Britain despite admitting ‘error’

Facebook has continued to disabled the accounts of dozens of political activists in Britain, despite admitting that it had done so in ‘error’. Those who have had their accounts targeted say it suggests Facebook is silencing political and left wing activists.

The scale and uniformed nature of the disabling – all activists are also members of the Socialist Workers Party (1) – suggests that Facebook algorithms have targeted those who have used the platform to challenge racism or to issue solidarity with Palestine.

Facebook initially disabled the accounts of over 40 activists. This led to an online campaign (2), and Facebook admitted to press enquiries that the accounts has been suspended in ‘error’ and reinstated dozens of accounts. However despite Facebook admitting the error more than 15 accounts are yet to be reinstated, all of whom are activists in their communities.

It is possible that new Facebook investment in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is incorrectly targeting political campaigns as ‘hate speech’.(3) Indeed in November 2020 an open letter from 200 Facebook content moderators to Mark Zuckerberg warned of the dangers of replacing their jobs with algorithms.(4)

Senior Facebook employees have stated that AI and algorithms are used to identify 95 percent of ‘hate speech’ on Facebook, up from 23.6 percent in 2017 (5).There have also been reports that Facebook has been disabling accounts and pages in the period the US election took place, again with little or no evidence that these accounts were breaching any ‘community standards’ (6).

Those who have had their accounts disabled have said they are going to challenge the decision, and demand they are reinstated.

Notes

  1. swp.org.uk
  2. https://swp.org.uk/facebook-silencing/
  3. https://about.fb.com/news/2020/11/community-standards-enforcement-report-nov-2020/
  4. https://www.foxglove.org.uk/news/open-letter-from-content-moderators-re-pandemic
  5. https://about.fb.com/news/2020/11/measuring-progress-combating-hate-speech/
  6. https://fortune.com/2020/11/28/facebooks-ai-is-mistakenly-banning-some-small-business-ads/

Category: Press releases