Facebook’s private censorship

Facebook and other online platforms have been criticised for their role in arbitrarily censoring legal content that is shared through their services. Without explanation Facebook removed pages belonging to Spoleczna Inicjatywa Narkopolityki (SIN), an organisation helping drug users with harm-reduction techniques, cutting off their most important means of communication with those they aim to support.

Panoptykon is supporting SIN to challenge this censorship. They are also pushing for Facebook to change its policies so that it is clear why something is censored and there is a process for contesting such restrictions to free speech online.

Facebook’s private censorship

Organisation Name

Panoptykon

Country/Jurisdiction

Poland

Thematic Area

Free flow of information online

Current Status

Ongoing

Grant type

Single Instance Litigation Support

Description

Facebook and other online platforms have been criticised for their role in arbitrarily censoring legal content that is shared through their services. Without explanation Facebook removed pages belonging to Spoleczna Inicjatywa Narkopolityki (SIN), an organisation helping drug users with harm-reduction techniques, cutting off their most important means of communication with those they aim to support.

Panoptykon is supporting SIN to challenge this censorship. They are also pushing for Facebook to change its policies so that it is clear why something is censored and there is a process for contesting such restrictions to free speech online.

In 2019, the District Court in Warsaw imposed an order preventing Facebook from blocking SIN’s new pages while the case is pending.  In July 2021, the court upheld its interim measures ruling. This means that – until the case is decided – SIN’s activists may carry out their drugs-related education on the platform without concerns that they will suddenly lose the possibility to communicate with their audience.

In the meantime, others have started to approach Panoptykon and their lawyers asking for support in restoring their censored content, and the issue of content censorship has received substantial media coverage in Poland.

"Without explanation Facebook removed pages... cutting off their most important means of communication with those they aim to support"

Strategic Goal

To change corporate policies on content moderation towards a fair, transparent, and regulated system, and to promote a debate about private censorship on public speech and the disproportionate power of tech giants.

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Image credit: Brett Jordan on Unsplash