The internet is afire with conspiracy theories again because Facebook has shut down a large number of Anti-Cuts groups in Britain on the day of the Royal Wedding. To be frank, I find the whinging even more entitled than that of Royalty. It’s based on the assumption that just because we are “here” we own it. And we can set our own rules.
Let’s remind ourselves about services provided by private companies. They create products which people are interested in using. In order to use said products, people need to agree to some terms of service. Often those terms include having to pay for it, other times they are mutual e.g. we give you access to this space for free as long as we can sell you and the rest of our companies to advertisers. In the 21st century they are often a mixture of the two.
When I visit shopping malls owned by corporations like Westfield or Lend Lease I often have to double take when I see Oxfam shops or similar. I understand groups like this need to go where the people are in order to evangelise their activism. They’ve made a trade off in order to talk to a greater population – business does that all the time.
Activist groups with pages on Facebook are doing the same thing. They see that Facebook has a captive audience just like in the shopping mall. But then they behave as if they have a stall in Camden Lock or Glebe Markets and they get shut down. Because they’ve forgotten that Facebook is not a Village Green.
Facebook is more like your local Westfield. And just like in Westfield, they’ll tolerate your activism as long as you pay the rent and keep it under the radar. Otherwise they will, like most other cloud based, software as a service applications
Protests aren’t welcome in private spaces like Facebook. Find your online Village Green instead. I call it the internet.