You may recall our story earlier this week about Gour Lentell's Anti-filter page Bet we can find 1 million Australians who say NO to the internet filter being blocked from making an update. The only indication as to why this occurred was due to a breech of Facebook Page Terms of Use message made visible to the Page Admin.  Lentell has been in contact with EFA this morning with an update from Facebook.

This is Facebook's explanation (Emphasis added by EFA):

From: 'The Facebook Team'
Sent: Wednesday, 15 September 2010 12:25 AM
To: Gour Lentell
Subject: Re: My Facebook Page was Disabled

Hi Gour,

Thank you for providing us with this information regarding your Page "Bet we can find 1 million Australians who say NO to the internet filter". Because you were not able to authenticate your Page by one of the methods previously offered, we are requiring that the name of your Page be elaborated upon to accurately represent the content of the Page.

Blogs:

If you are using your Page primarily as a blog and you do not own the domain that's related to your Page, we will need to add a byline for you. For example, if the name of your Page were "Food" but you did not own "www.food.com," we would need to add "By Firstname Lastname" to the Page's title in order to authenticate it. Please note that only full names will be accepted and initials will not be allowed.

Businesses:

If your Page is for a business, we will need to change the name of your Page to more accurately reflect your business. For example, a Page titled "New York" affiliated and administrated by "www.iloveny.com" would need to be corrected to either "Iloveny.com" or "New York by Iloveny.com."

Once we have received your preferred Page name alternative, we will be able to assist you further. If you do not contact us within three weeks, your Page's publishing rights will be blocked and any custom URL that may be associated with your Page will be removed. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users.

Thanks in advance for your cooperation,

Giorgio
User Operations
Facebook

Thank you,
Gour Lentell

Here is Lentell's response to Facebook:

From: Gour Lentell
Sent: Wednesday, 15 September 2010 8:03 AM
To: 'The Facebook Team'
Subject: RE: My Facebook Page was Disabled

Hi,

Good to hear from you. However I am still confused.

I do not recall receiving any previous communication about authenticating my page - I would be more than happy to authenticate it via one of the standard methods.

My page is a "Community" page to post comments and articles and generate discussion regarding a specific issue of community concern, i.e. proposed government legislation to implement an internet filter in Australia.

It is ironic that Facebook have elected to "filter" this page. This action is starting to generate media interest in Australia, given the subject focus of the page.

The page is not related to a specific domain name so I cannot see how the page can be amended as outlined in the email below.

Please read this email and advise how to properly authenticate the page and restore my publishing rights.

So the page has not been blocked due to pro-filter activists, nor by any number of other reasons that have been speculated.  It has been removed because according to Facebook the title Bet we can find 1 million Australians who say NO to the internet filter is not descriptive enough for the content on the page.  It is absurd that Facebook find it beyond belief that a page rallying people against the Internet Filter would share news related to the Filter.

Additionally, what is not addressed in the emails is how a page can be blocked from 5 September and no apparent contact made by Facebook to notify and explain the situation. And why has Facebook taken 10 days to respond to Lentell’s numerous appeal requests?

It would appear that this is a case of censorship by bureaucracy and reinforces the dangers of  building communities exclusively on platforms you cannot control.

EFA will continue to monitor the situation, and will report on the outcome. Members of the page can contact Gour Lentell by sending a message via his Facebook account.

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Image credit: Franco Bouly Creative Commons

8 comments

  1. Diaspora is coming....

    http://www.joindiaspora.com/

    Comment by Jayness on 15 September 2010 at 5:15 pm
  2. As far as I know, once a page receives a certain number of "likes", it has to be authenticated. You could argue that Facebook's authentication standards don't lend themselves to this type of communication action page, but I don't think you could regard this case as active/deliberate "censorship" of the community.

    So my only comment really is that Facebook may need to slightly widen the categories that it incorporates in its authentication process.

    Comment by James on 15 September 2010 at 6:06 pm
  3. Better if the EFA registers a relevant domain - then it's in community hands. Not that I don't trust you or anything, but I don't know you and I think most people here may not.

    I suspect FB will say the page should have been a 'group' not a page because it's not related to a blog or business and then they'd take it down which would not be good.

    Comment by Ricky Buchanan on 15 September 2010 at 8:45 pm
    • Thanks Ricky,

      I think your probably right, a Group would have been more appropriate than a Page. It's just a shame how Facebook has gone about enforcing this rule. Gour claims he didn't receive any notification or requests for validation. They've just closed off his admin rights and given him no channel for communication. And the community of the page received nothing to notify them of what has been happening. It would have appeared that the admin had abandoned the Page.

      It is Facebook's site and therefore their rules, but their methods and customer service has been found wanting.

      Mike Jones

      Comment by efa_oz on 15 September 2010 at 9:17 pm
      • I agree 100% with that! I am a par admin myself, and Facebook are almost famously crappy in their total lack of customer notification about anything. As a business, quite frankly, they suck at customer service and communication - pretty ironic for a media service!

        Given that we all agree about their total crapness at communication, etc., and do not allow pages to be converted to groups or vice versatile, I propose we take up Zach's suggestion and do an end-run around their rules by creating a blog (a blog with one post is still a blog!) and tell them the page is about that. It seems the easiest solution, because any other either involves the group closing down or Facebook changing their rules - and that second just isn't going to happen no matter how sane and sensible it would be, it requires Facebook to be responsive and they don't have the ability to be that :(

        R

        Comment by Ricky Buchanan on 15 September 2010 at 10:42 pm
  4. If we could find other examples of similar treatment regarding similarly structured web pages then we can assume merely poor service in notifying people.
    However if others have similar supposed deficiencies in their page and have not suffered the same problems then we can safely assume evil censorship :) I'm inclined to believe the latter due to the nature of Facebook's response

    Comment by Aaron on 16 September 2010 at 6:40 am
    • Hello Aaron,
      I don't know if this aligns exactly with the thread here but I've just put down the phone after speaking with Telstra for about the 200th time.
      I've been attempting to discover why they chose to close down my industry related web-page in mid 2008 at the end of over six months of phonecalls and assurances that such wouldn't happen.
      Since then we've apparently been 'rewarded' for complaining by having duff bills sent to our address with some fictitious name from Telstra's debt collector, have been overcharged on our bill and continue to be stuffed about by their pretence that our web page didn't seem to exist.
      And yes, we've written to Mr Thodey, the ombudsman and the drover's dog.
      Each day it becomes clearer that the electronic communications medium becomes increasingly controlled by types who enjoy controlling others and especially enjoy harming others in any anonymous way they can.

      Comment by CALLIGULA on 30 September 2010 at 4:43 pm