Activists Call for Facebook to Adopt ‘Anti-Censorship’ Policy

A collective of activists sent an open letter to Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg asking him to implement an “anti-censorship policy” at the company for its dealings with law enforcement officials in the wake of the death of Korryn Gaines.

Gaines, 23, died shortly after a standoff with Baltimore police. Her confrontation with police officers, which was streamed via the social media site’s Facebook Live feature, was turned off shortly after her death.

Archived video footage from the stream was briefly unavailable as well. According to the letter, Facebook said the inconvenience was due to a “technical glitch.”

But the consortium of activist groups say they don’t buy the “glitch” explanation.

“Facebook broadcasting is one of the most powerful tools in the world for documenting police brutality and raising awareness of the scale and systemic nature of police misconduct,” the group wrote. “Increasingly, this platform isn’t just a place where news is shared within social networks, but a platform where news is broken. If your company agrees to censor people’s accounts at the request of police – thereby allowing the police to control what the public sees on Facebook – then it is part of the problem.”

In addition to using Gaines’ Facebook Live incident as an example, the group referenced a lack of access to video of Philando Castile’s shooting death at the hands of police.

“Just last month, the murder of Philando Castile at the hands of police was videotaped live on Facebook by fiancé Diamond Reynolds. Once the footage hit 1 million views, it was removed temporarily due to a ‘technical glitch’ according to your spokespeople, but many media reports suggest otherwise.”

In its letter to Zuckerberg, the group listed three specific demands that they want implemented regarding censorship on the website:

  1. Explain what happened that caused Facebook to shut down Korryn Gaines’ account, and fully restore it.
  2. Clarify Facebook’s position on collaborating with police and law enforcement to censor data and video.
  3. Institute a policy regarding the censorship of content and video that protects individual civil liberties and is transparent and accountable to the public.

The group wrapped up its letter will an appeal of understanding.

“We know that you personally have taken a strong stand in support of the Movement for Black Lives…And we hope that you will ensure that Facebook implements an anti-censorship policy that honors and respects Black lives.

Click here to read the consortium’s full letter.

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