After Facebook released its government requests report late last week, digital civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) took issue with Facebook’s willingness to bend to the demands of governments around the world.
Though the site is not required to operate under the laws of the various countries it’s in, it often does, removing content on a case-by-case basis. According to the EEF’s complaint, this essentially amounts to enforcing political censorship. For instance, it is prohibited to speak out against the state in Turkey. As revealed by Facebook’s very own government request report, Turkey placed a total of 1,893 requests, second only to India. In other words, an oppressive government is taking advantage of Facebook’s willingness to work with it to stifle its own citizens.
“While Facebook… now issues a regular report showing government requests, we urge the company to take it a step further and display exactly what kind of censorship requests it is receiving from governments,” the EEF wrote. “In doing so, the company will allow civil society in these countries to make more informed decisions about how they tackle censorship.”
While Twitter has also censored content on behalf of foreign governments, it has also proven to be a key catalyst in movements like the Arab Spring protests. Perhaps Facebook should take a page out of their main rival’s book and treat content with more political sensitivity, particularly in international trouble spots.