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ARTICLE 19 post censored by Facebook

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - London, 9 July 2012 - Facebook has indirectly helped the Assad government by censoring ARTICLE 19, after the social networking website deleted a post on facebook.com/article19org that linked to a report on torture in Syria.

“ARTICLE 19 has been concerned by the looming threat of private censorship for some time, but never expected to be the victim of it,” said Dr Agnes Callamard, ARTICLE 19 executive director.

“When we logged in to our Facebook page, we simply discovered a warning that our post had been removed – without warning, no explanation and no appeals process,” she added.

“All the comments were removed too – each commenter therefore being a victim of Facebook censorship – and with the subject being Syria, there were quite a lot of commenters affected.”

“Facebook later apologised when the Guardian got involved, but we have never heard from them as to why they removed it, and our post remains deleted.”

ARTICLE 19 believes that Facebook is widely recognised as a quasi-public space and as such has responsibilities when it comes to respecting the right to freedom of expression.

Deleting content in such a manner – without transparent and accountable systems in which users understand what condition they have violated and have the ability to appeal – would be the mark of a highly repressive regime if it were offline.

International law is clear that censorship is only acceptable when it is clearly proscribed, is for a legitimate aim - such as for public health - and is necessary in a democracy.

The deleted post read “@hrw publishes a shocking report into #torture in #Syria including geo-tagged detention centres ow.ly/bZ6Yl ^OS”

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