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Thursday, November 27 2014 @ 04:29 AM CST

The Banning of Anarchist Memes: Facebook’s Community Double Standards

Censorship

Yesterday, on 9 January 2014, after over five years of operation, popular Facebook page Anarchist Memes was permanently taken down by Facebook. With approximately 90,000 likes and hundreds of comments each day, Anarchist Memes established itself as one of the radical left’s most prominent Facebook pages. It posted feminist, anti-racist, pro-LGBT*QA, and anti-capitalist content numerous times a day.

Facebook’s Community Double Standards

by Ben Norton
Dissident Voice
January 10th, 2014

Is Facebook flirting with fascism? The question might prove difficult to answer with a resounding “yes or no,” but, to those who have been keeping track of its recent censorship practices, the answer appears to lean heavily toward the affirmative.

Yesterday, on 9 January 2014, after over five years of operation, popular Facebook page Anarchist Memes was permanently taken down by Facebook. With approximately 90,000 likes and hundreds of comments each day, Anarchist Memes established itself as one of the radical left’s most prominent Facebook pages. It posted feminist, anti-racist, pro-LGBT*QA, and anti-capitalist content numerous times a day. For years, the page and its administrators experienced endless harassment and trolling, yet it demonstrated an outstanding, resolute commitment to establishing a safe, non-oppressive digital environment. Racism, misogyny, cisheterosexism, ableism, classism, anti-Islamic prejudice, and other forms of bigotry were never tolerated. The page’s many administrators have, true to the cooperative anarchist tradition, created a democratic system of accountability to determine how to delete particular oppressive comments, as to prevent needless censorship while simultaneously creating a genuinely non-threatening, non-hierarchical space for readers—a true rarity on the internet today.

Facebook, nonetheless, demonstrated on numerous occasions that such a feminist, anti-racist, anti-cisheteronormative environment would not be tolerated. The page was flagged numerous times for content that “violated” Facebook’s Community Standards and “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities,” rather ambiguously delineated guidelines that suggest a commitment to liberal principles without dabbling in the difficulties that come with concretely articulating the specific moral values on which those principles are based. Facebook claims to be opposed to expression that supports “Violence and Threats,” “Bullying and Harassment,” “Hate Speech,” “Graphic Content,” and “Nudity and Pornography.” In actual practice, however, it is clear that the company is only opposed to particular kinds of violence, harassment, hate speech, and more.

Just a few months ago, Facebook generated much controversy for its intransigent refusal to remove photos glorifying rape and violence against women. Soraya Chemaly wrote of “Facebook’s big misogyny problem,” noting Facebook takes no issue in hosting pages like “I kill b**ches like you” and “Domestic Violence: Don’t Make Me Tell You Twice,” featuring scores of photos of beaten women. These individual pages were taken down as a result of the controversy the article generated, yet, today, many similar misogynist pages still exist. Spreading even more egg on its face, Facebook proceeded to lash out against those critiquing its censorship practices, blocking administrators of feminist pages who uploaded pictures protesting the site’s misogyny.

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