Facebook has over 2 billion active users in countries around the world, making it impossible for the platform to obey every nation’s interests. However, according to a new report from The Intercept, Facebook seems particularly responsive to the U.S. and Israel, even deleting user accounts at the governments’ request.
In Israel, security agencies monitor Facebook and send posts to the company that they claim are inciting violence. For its part, Facebook removes about 95 percent of them. However, Israeli calls for violence against Palestinians are removed by the company at a far lesser clip, and according to Al Jazeera, the site hasn’t even met with Palestinian leadership to address their concerns.
Meanwhile, in the United States, Facebook recently removed the profile of Ramzan Kadyrov, the brutal leader of the Chechen Republic. However, the company said it did so only because the U.S. wanted it.
“Mr. Kadyrov’s accounts were deactivated because he had just been added to a United States sanctions list and that the company was legally obligated to act,” a Facebook spokesperson told The New York Times.
While no one is arguing that Kadyrov is worthy of having a profile, it’s troubling that Facebook was so willing to remove his social media presence just because the government placed him on a sanctions list. Why is the site so eager to do what the government wants? And what if the government abused that eagerness, sanctioning people just because it knows that Facebook will erase them? These are important questions to ask, and hopefully Facebook takes more independence to protect users moving forward.