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Why is Facebook silencing atheist and ex-Muslim voices?

Why is Facebook silencing atheist and ex-Muslim voices?

The answer, according to Muhammad Syed, above, President of the Ex-Muslims of North America, is that Islamic fundamentalists are systematically attacking Facebook pages they do not like.

Syed, according to this report, took to Twitter earlier this week to report that the Facebook pages of Ex-Muslims of North America and Atheist Republic were restricted and then shut down for violating Facebook’s “community standards”.

No details were given as to what standards were violated. However on Tuesday, after appealing the case, both groups were able to regain full access to their pages.

Syed accuses Facebook of  not doing enough to protect:

Groups vulnerable to malicious attacks.

In an open letter to Facebook Syed pressures the social media company to take measures to improve its reporting mechanisms and to protect ex-Muslim groups.

Ironically, the same social media which empowers religious minorities is susceptible to abuse by religious fundamentalists to enforce what are essentially the equivalent of online blasphemy laws.

A simple English language search reveals hundreds of public groups and pages on Facebook explicitly dedicated to this purpose – giving their members easy-to-follow instructions on how to report public groups and infiltrate private ones.

Patheos reports that Atheist Republic, the world’s largest Facebook page for atheists which has more than 1.6 million users, has been repeatedly unpublished by Facebook as brigades of religious extremists, often devout Muslims, abuse Facebook’s reporting algorithms to censor any criticism of Islam.

In fact, there are multiple Facebook groups dedicated to “Report Anti-Islamic Pages,” groups that target and try to take down atheist pages in general, and atheist pages for ex-Muslims in particular.

These anti-atheist, social media warriors, use Facebook reporting tools to try and censor atheists and other freethinkers. Under Facebook’s “community guidelines,” if enough people flag a page as being harmful or promoting violence or containing illegal content, the page is automatically removed, and those responsible for the post are punished.

Thus, even though a page may not be promoting violence or other illegal content that violates Facebook’s terms of service, if enough dishonest people make false reports, Facebook’s algorithms kick in and page administrators are banned for a certain amount of time from publishing content (24 hours up to 30 days).

In the most extreme instances, the page itself is automatically unpublished and disappears from view.

Conatus News reports that according to the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, other atheist groups or pages shut down by the world’s most powerful social network in the course of a month include:

•    Arab Atheist Network (23,500 members)
•    Arab Atheist Forum and Network (9,200 members)
•    Radical Atheists without Borders (23,500 members)
•    Arab Atheist Syndicate (11,000 members)
•    Arab Atheist Syndicate, backup (5,000 members)
•    Humanitarian Non-Religious (32,000 members)
•    Human Atheists (11,000 members)
•    Arab Atheists Forum and Network (6,400 members)
•    Mind and Discussion (6,500 members)

In order to combat this social media warfare against atheists and ex-Muslims, a Change.org petition is up asking Facebook:

To prevent religious extremists from censoring atheists and secularists.

The petition asks in part:

Facebook should create a whitelist for Facebook Groups and Facebook Pages which are determined as vulnerable to malicious attacks. Reports and flags aimed at them should not be handled by automated mechanisms but reviewed and given due consideration by a trained Facebook employee.

In addition to the petition, a letter signed by dozens of atheists/secularist/humanist organisations asks Facebook:

To prevent religious extremists from censoring atheists and secularists. The letter reads in part:

Due to abuse of Facebook’s reporting tools, atheist and ex-Muslim organizations and groups find themselves yet again the target of censorship campaigns by religious conservatives. We respectfully ask that Facebook create mechanisms to prevent abuse of its features so that our organizations and groups do not fear unjust restriction and removal.

Hat tip: Trevor Blake and BarrieJohn

15 responses to “Why is Facebook silencing atheist and ex-Muslim voices?”

  1. L.Long says:

    Religion is basically evil (with only a few individuals being better than their bigoted religion) and to give into any religious demands (other then for protection) is to agree with their bigotry. Remember their ‘sincerely held beliefs’ are pure BS no matter how sincere!

  2. barriejohn says:

    This is the religious all over: much smarter than they make out (“Wise as serpents and harmless as…err…serpents”), and we need to be as smart as them to outwit the bastards.

  3. Paul says:

    Freedom of religion is incompatible with freedom to criticise it. Islam anyway.

  4. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    @L.Long: “Sincerely held beliefs” is a nonsense phrase and worthy of contempt. Apartheid South Africa had a sincerely held belief that white people were superior to non white people. Peadophiles have a sincerely held belief that sex with children is acceptable. There are even people who have a sincerely held belief that rugby is a sport!!!

    This phrase can never be accepted as an excuse or as a get out for religion.

  5. Brian Jordan says:

    “I’ll be judge, I’ll be jury,”
    Said cunning old Fury:
    “I’ll try the whole cause
    , and condemn you to death.”‘

    That is to say, these Internet giants are laws unto themselves. Best avoided: bring back old fashioned web sites.

  6. Alan Crowe says:

    ‘There are even people who have a sincerely held belief that rugby is a sport!!!’

    G M R, I sincerely hope you mean rugby union and not the real rugby 🙂

  7. Jenna says:

    Oh dear …The tribalism of sport. Not far removed from the tribalism of religions.

  8. barriejohn says:

    When I was living in Lancashire, I realized that Rugby League is actually a religion!

  9. Alan Crowe says:

    Had a humour bypass Jenna? I did include a smiley 🙂
    barriejohn, all the best teams are in Yorkshire, although I do originate from Cumberland.

  10. barriejohn says:

    Alan Crowe: My room-mate was from Pontefract, and sport-mad, so I was informed of that fact on many occasions. Sadly, he died of cancer about fifteen years ago, but was widely respected in the Bolton area, where he organized the schools cross-country competitions, and was one of the nicest people that I ever knew. They instituted a trophy in his memory. He was famed for turning up for events whatever the weather!

  11. Simon says:

    Mr Crowe …I have not had a sense of humour by pass either. I find tribalism a bore … who gives a toss which bunch of rules are used by two opposed set of steaming sweaty men intent on getting a bag of wind to the ends of a muddy pitch. Union or League. Muslim or Christian. Same old notion of them and us differences, divisions, prejudice and conflict.

    And I am pretty sure that your boorish attitude is why Christopher Hitchens declared he didn’t like people from Yorkshire. Your irrational adherence to the stupid notion of the superiority of all things Yorkshire is again your bigoted tribalism on ostentatious display.

  12. Michael Glass says:

    It is to be expected that Muslim zealots will try to target ex-Muslims; however, it’s good to see that the targeted groups are fighting back.

  13. Cali Ron says:

    Simon: I think it’s much better for young men to release their competitive yearnings and youthful energy in relatively harmless sport, than say on fighting, excessive drinking and drug taking, raping, killing or engaging in war. That competitiveness is the result of the survival instinct that allowed humans to flourish and sometimes still provides a positive force. EX: Daz and remigius competition in the previous thread has resulted in others increased knowledge.

  14. […] Why is Facebook silencing atheist and ex-Muslim voices? – These anti-atheist, social media warriors, use Facebook reporting tools to try and censor atheists and other freethinkers. Under Facebook’s “community … […]

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