On Thursday, Facebook announced it had removed more than 800 political pages and accounts for “coordinated inauthentic behavior” and spamming.
This week, the people behind the pages Facebook purged for being inauthentic are angry. They feel they’ve been unfairly targeted for practices they say are common across the entire social network.
And those who have built their livelihoods around the power of Facebook to drive traffic to their websites are wondering what to do next.
The controversy highlights the challenges Facebook and other social media sites face when attempting to police the content their members freely provide.
In a related move, on Tuesday, the company announced a way for members to report inaccurate information designed to suppress voter turnout, such as providing the wrong dates or methods for voting. Facebook has been removing this form of misinformation since 2016.
As a private entity, Facebook can enforce its terms however it sees fit, says the ACLU attorney Vera Eidelman. But this can have serious free speech consequences, especially if the social network is selectively enforcing its terms based on the content of the pages.
“Drawing the line between ‘real’ and ‘inauthentic’ views is a difficult enterprise that could put everything from important political parody to genuine but outlandish views on the chopping block,” says Eidelman. “It could also chill individuals who only feel safe speaking out anonymously or pseudonymously.” Read more