Facebook has found itself in the rather unusual (some would say “indefensible”) position of booting from Facebook people with odd or unusual names, while refusing to boot pro-Nazi groups who deny that the Holocaust ever happened (so-called “Holocaust deniers”).
Last week Facebook was attacked by attorney Brian Cuban (Mark Cuban‘s brother) for Facebook’s hosting of groups like “Holocaust is a Holohoax” and “Holocaust: A Series of Lies”, demanding that Facebook remove the groups.
Writing on his blog, Cuban complained that “The Holocaust Denial movement is nothing more than a pretext to allow the preaching of hatred against Jews and to recruit other like minded individuals to do the same. Allowing these groups to flourish on Facebook under the guise of “open discussion” does nothing more than help spread their message of hate. Is this the kind of open discussion that Facebook wants to encourage? Is this really where you want to draw your line?”
According to Facebook spokesperson Barry Schnitt, while Facebook finds the Holocaust deniers “patently offensive and objectionable,” they feel they need “to maintain a delicate balance of free speech and user protection.” Asked why Facebook then banned a group run by the KKK, he cited their exhorting their followers to “join us and help cleanse the Isle of Man.”
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Meanwhile, apparently that delicate balance includes allowing pro-Nazi Holocaust deniers to freely spread their hate on Facebook, but doesn’t allow people with names that Facebook deems questionable to have Facebook accounts.
In fact, Facebook has been having a cleansing of their own, cleansing Facebook of people with names that it deems to be somehow questionable.
Take, for example, Alicia Istanbul, who suddenly found herself locked out of the Facebook account she’s had since some time in 2007. Or any of the legitimate Susan Boyle’s who have tried to sign up for Facebook since the singing Susan Boyle shot to fame a few weeks ago, only to be denied (oh, such irony).
Native Americans have it particularly rough, with names that apparently Facebook can’t believe could be real – such as Robin Kills the Enemy, who was also locked out of her account despite “Kills the Enemy” being her real last name. In fact, Facebook required her to fax government-issued identification to them before they would reinstate her account! Yes, Kills the Enemy had to fax her passport to Facebook!
Once again fronting for Facebook, Barry Schnitt cops to the fact that on occasion they may make a mistake when suspending an account – with no notice to the user, we might add – but he maintains that it’s rare. “The vast, vast, vast majority of people we disable we never hear from again,” said Schnitt.
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We don’t think that’s because you didn’t make a mistake; we think it’s because you pissed them off enough that they’ve had it with Facebook.
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