In the United States, Facebook is a valuable platform for sharing and spreading information. However, in many countries around the world, the social media giant is the absolute lifeblood of the Internet, serving as a vital tool for news and communication. That’s the case in Tunisia, where over the weekend Facebook deactivated about 60 accounts of high-profile political writers and activists without warning.
“I still don’t know what happened,” journalist and political commentator Haythem El Mekki said. “It would be flattering to believe that we had been targeted, but I think it’s just as likely that an algorithm got out of control.”
Indeed, Facebook stepped up to apologize and said it made an error. However, only a few of the blocked accounts have since been restored.
“Due to a technical error we recently removed a small number of profiles, which have now been restored,” Facebook said after it had been contacted by The Guardian. “We were not trying to limit anyone’s ability to post or express themselves, and apologize for any inconvenience this has caused.”
Even though this censorship was apparently a mistake, it’s a perfect illustration of the ways in which Facebook has too much control over our information. If a simple algorithm error can basically censor the free speech for an entire country, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and figure out a better system.
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