Who polices Facebook?

ULTRA far-right group Britain First – Spain Battalion is dangerous. Its agenda is notionally an anti-Islamist one. Born from roots in the British National Party, it is more sinister than that.
In these days of terror attacks by extremists, war atrocities in Syria, the Tunisian beach massacre and the attacks on the Charlie Ebdo offices, there is surely nothing wrong in criticising such events.
No, there is not, but such criticism should be founded on a bedrock of respect for those members of a religion that do not support extremism. Make no mistake, the vast majority of British Muslims are peaceful and hardworking, something not exactly publicised by Britain First – Spain Battalion. Instead they look at terror attacks as a heaven-sent opportunity to cynically push their own racist agenda.
In its latest social media stunt, it has hijacked the Euro Weekly News’ masthead to publish a ‘front page’ on Facebook saying Britain First – Spain Battalion is going to wage war on Muslims extremists.
By putting the EWN masthead on the mock-up, it implies we endorse Britain First – Spain Battalion and report on their activities. In no way do we do so. The editorial policy of the EWN has always been to remain neutral. We are not political, we are not racist, we are neutral on the matter of immigration. Members of our staff are a multinational bunch. They are decent, hardworking people. There is no discrimination here.
We do, however, agree with freedom of speech, and for that reason give columnists of various political hues the space to express their personal views. The EWN does not necessarily endorse or agree with those views.
But this fake front page, which due to the ‘magic’ of the internet will have been posted all around the world and been seen by many, many people, is not about free speech. It is propaganda using the Euro Weekly News’ good name in an attempt to legitimise some far-right views of hate.
The events at the Charlie Hebdo offices proved journalists are seen as a prime target for the sort of people – yes, terrorists – who might take this sort of childish stunt seriously. We have 10 offices around Spain, offices which are highly vulnerable to attack.
For that reason we asked Britain First – Spain Battalion to take the page down. They refused. They do not seem at all bothered that they may have made some totally innocent people targets for extremist terrorists.
We asked Facebook to take the post down. Nothing has happened. We reported the matter to the Spanish authorities and the British Metropolitan Police. Again, no joy.
This is a matter of deep concern. It is well known that Islamist extremists have been using social media sites to spread their agenda, and far-right groups as well. But it would appear that there is nothing – no plan, no power, no desire – to stop them.
The question is, who polices Facebook? It cannot be right that this sort of misinformation and propaganda as well as downright lies can be so easily disseminated, often to naïve and impressionable youngsters, without any way of having information corrected and removed.
That stands in contrast to the latest EU regulation on press sites. People who have been found guilty by a court can have the story purged from a news site at their request if some faceless operator on Google decides it is no longer ‘relevant.’
But it would appear Facebook stands above the law. In cases like this, as well as on the sites of countless terror group apologists, Facebook seems to have a blind spot.
Freedom of speech is one thing, but there is also the concept of common decency. You know, it maybe a little old-fashioned now, but most people have a deep down feeling for what is right and what is wrong. Call it common sense if you will, but Facebook should ensure that is something that is used on its site.
The editor of a newspaper is ultimately responsible for what is printed in his or her publication. Indeed he can go to jail for it.
Who at Facebook is responsible for what is published on its site? No one it seems. It is not good enough for the suits at Facebook to throw their hands up in the air, cite freedom of speech, and ignore the most heinous sorts of posts that incite violence and hatred.
They should take responsibility for policing their own site. And if they won’t, then it is the duty of lawmakers to make them take responsibility, or give the police the power to stop the extremists of whatever side from using Facebook and other social media to spread their messages of hatred.
Facebook is without doubt guilty of not only being apathetic but also of putting innocent people at risk.
Shame on you Facebook. Shame on you!

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