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Censorship is being forced on Facebook over atheist pages

Censorship is being forced on Facebook over atheist pages

A coordinated campaign by fundamentalist Islamic groups has led to Facebook shutting down a number of Arabic atheist pages.

According to this report, the social media platform has removed more than 16 Arabic-speaking atheist pages due to “violations” of its “Community Standards”.

The closure has left more than 100,000 atheists in Muslim dominant countries without a platform to share with other non-religious people.

A campaign under the tag #FacebookVSFreeSpeech has been launched to challenge Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg by Atheist Alliance – Middle East and North Africa (AA-MENA).

Facebook has an automated system based on the number of complaints to decide whether to remove a page or group.

The social media platform does not usually monitor reports of violations of Community Standards as they will vary around the world. Instead the site makes an automatic decision based on the number of complaints. If a post or groups gets enough reports of violations, Facebook will shut down the content and delete it.

This leaves vulnerable groups open to being targeted by so-called “cyber jihadists” who urge their large following to flood Facebook with complaints.

It is part of a wider online campaign in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to quell expressions of atheism or anything other than the socially conservative Islamic norm. But the abuse is not just online.

The AA-MENA campaign has tracked the progress of Arabic-speaking atheist groups and pages and frequently criticises Facebook’s approach to freedom of speech.

The group has three goals for its campaign; reactivate the pages, convince Facebook to respect the rights of irreligious people in the MENA region and; convince Facebook to reform its procedures so a just evaluation is made of any alleged violation of Community Standards.

Maryam

Maryam Namazie, above, spokeswoman for the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and a newly-appointed columnist for the Freethinker, tweeted she had been blocked by Facebook after she shared an ex-Muslim’s page that depicted Zuckerberg as an ally of ISIS.

Meanwhile, it is reported here that Facebook has banned the page of German gay magazine Gaystream after they published an article critical of Islam in the wake of the Orlando massacre.

Journalist and editor-in-chief of Gaystream, David Berger, claimed that the site had blocked the magazine’s page because the article sharply criticised Green party activists who “played down the causes of the attack.”

Berger claims that not only was the Facebook page deactivated, but his personal account was also shut down for 30 days after he posted an article he had written entitled “Cologne professional Homos scale new stage of Islam-masochism.”

In the article, he heavily criticised the Cologne Gay Museum director Dr Brigit Bosold who told German media she was more afraid of straight white men than Islamic radicals and migrants.

The Pink Humanist magazine has also run into a spot of bother. A press release sent to Euro-Queer, a list “devoted to communication among European LGBT activists, organisations and idividuals” was rejected this week by the organisation. The press release mentioned an article I wrote about Islam for the latest edition of the magazine. In rejecting it, Euro-Queer wrote:

Posting of your message titled “The latest issue of The Pink Humanist” has been rejected by the list moderator.

The moderator gave the following reason for rejecting your request: ‘Your message was deemed inappropriate by the moderator’.

Hat tip: Trevor Blake (Gaystream report)

17 responses to “Censorship is being forced on Facebook over atheist pages”

  1. L.Long says:

    Facebook is a business. If they wish to be bigots too protect their ideas of a business plan, they have the right. Don’t like it?? Build your own atheist isLame facebook! Simple!

  2. CoastalMaineBird says:

    they have the right.
    I don’t think anyone is questioning their right to do this.

    But the fact that they do needs to be publicized.

  3. Broga says:

    I’m not on Facebook. I tried years ago but being techno incompetent I got in a mess and gave up.

    Religious belief needs censorship, threats and violence to protect its superstitions from rational comment. The BBC censors secular opinion from the dire Thought for the Day to which I no longer listen.

  4. Stephen Mynett says:

    Any business has the right to do what it wants within the law but people also have the right to question what they think is wrong and some businesses take note of public opinion.
    We all know Facebook is a profit-making concern and has a dubious record with censorship but that should not stop us questioning them and showing a little support for fellow atheists.
    I have said this before but we who are free to be atheist are often too glib and do not consider what it is like to be trapped where atheism is a taboo, the least we can do is show a little solidarity with other free thinkers.
    As making their own, fine, although there are already Arabic atheist sites, I know from my TEFL days when I used to introduce some students to TAILS and TOR but they are for those who already think freely, an attempt to have their pages on Facebook may have some effect in educating other people, especially those with slight doubts already.
    We all know an Islamic enlightenment would be a great thing, whether it will happen is another matter but we should support those who may make it possible, rather than cynically writing them off as has been done on one post.

  5. barriejohn says:

    Yes. I have a Facebook account, but, like Broga, find the site totally confusing, and only continue to use it to keep in touch with one or two friends of mine. All the bells and whistles do nothing for me, and I’m always posting comments in the wrong places, as nothing seems clear and straightforward!

    The group has three goals for its campaign; reactivate the pages, convince Facebook to respect the rights of irreligious people in the MENA region and; convince Facebook to reform its procedures so a just evaluation is made of any alleged violation of Community Standards.

    What’s wrong with that? As customers of Zuckerberg, we have every right to let him know what we think of the way that his (“our”, lol) site is operated, because it’s quite clear that the religious fanatics are very well organized in bringing pressure upon the media in pursuit of the censorship which, as Broga says again, they so desperately need, being scared witless by the spread of enlightenment today.

  6. Joy says:

    I agree that I would like to support freethinkers everywhere. You mentioned a tag #FacebookVSFreeSpeach but you didn’t tell me what to do with it. Yes, the site is very confusing inaccessable to we-the-people.

  7. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: So reassuring that even you find Facebook confusing. With any techno problem I immediately assume that it is down to my incompetence. My wife keeps assuring me that things can go wrong with me being faultless and it is the system not me.

  8. Lurker111 says:

    @Broga:
    “I’m not on Facebook. I tried years ago but being techno incompetent I got in a mess and gave up.”

    Facebook’s interface stinks. I’ve been in the DP/IT business since 1970 and every time the spouse asks me for help working Facebook, I cringe. Every time you need to do something on the site, it’s like a freaking Adventure game where you have to poke around until you get a clue. And whatever IDIOT came up with the idea of hiding options until your mouse Just Happens To mouse over them?

    It’s probably better now than a couple of years ago, but the bad taste has never left me.

    And don’t get me started on Ancestry.

  9. Broga says:

    @Lurker111: Thanks. I came to computers late in life and until then relied on pen and ink and my typewriter. I’m surprised and reassured at what I am reading here as my assumption is always that it is my ignorance and stupidity that is the problem. . When my wife, computer literate, says, “I can’t make this work either” I realise it doesn’t have to be my fault.

    In passing, I think the spread of atheist thinking and ideas owes so much to computers and the internet. Minds are being opening although some, sadly, seem to be forever closed.

  10. Brian Jordan says:

    @Broga
    ” I’m surprised and reassured at what I am reading here as my assumption is always that it is my ignorance and stupidity that is the problem.”
    Often, it’s the ignorance and stupidity of the people designing the web sites: they can be stupidly ignorant of how the site appears to an average user. In general, the more bells and whistles are added, the less usable the site becomes. For example, cookies are a particular menace: I have them switched off by default and sites regularly refuse to work – without deigning to tell me they need cookies.

  11. Broga says:

    @Brian Jordan : I bought a new car, same make and same power, as the old one which we liked. The idea was that we would have no trouble driving the new model. There were so many “improvements” that we were constantly having to consult the handbook to drive it.

    The rush to novelty is everywhere.

  12. Daz says:

    “In general, the more bells and whistles are added, the less usable the site becomes”

    Two words: Infinite. Scroll. Proof that Satan walks amongst us?

  13. Philip Smeeton says:

    Why does Facebook care what anyone thinks. Shouldn’t they be protecting free-speech by everyone. If someone is offended by what is being posted all you need is a button labelled, do-not-follow. Problem solved, you never need to be insulted or offended by that page again.

  14. Broga says:

    @Philip Smeeton:

    “you never need to be insulted or offended by that page again.”

    For many people looking for ways to be insulted or offended is a way of life.

  15. jay says:

    The recent agreement with Facebook,twitter, and Microsoft to censor ‘offensive’ postings in EU and elsewhere will certainly be used against atheists.

  16. Peter Sykes says:

    Philip Smeeton:
    “Some people will walk a mile barefoot over broken glass if they think there’s a chance been offended at the end.” – unknown

  17. Zuckerberg himself is an atheist. Easy fix for this. We’ll see if they do it.
    https://vimeo.com/171785726