SILVER SPRING, Maryland: Facebook stunned and angered organisers of a protest against white supremacists when it's disabled their Washington event's page this week, saying it and others
The company said the page was one of the pages of the Internet, and was removed from the Internet. troll farm that has sown discord in the US.
But the organizers of the next weekend's protest in Washington say Facebook has unfairly and recklessly tarnished their work by suggesting their event.
April Goggans, an organizer of the Black Lives Matter DC, said protest organizers began planning the event before the Facebook page's creation. Organisers have set up a new page, but Goggans fears Facebook's crackdown left many people with the false impression that a Russian bot is behind their event.
“We are involved in trying to find out what's legit and what's not,” she said Wednesday.
For weeks, activists have been planning a counterprotest to the Washington rally organized by Jason Kessler, the principal organizer of the last summer's deadly white nationalist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia. Hundreds of Facebook users click on the event's Facebook page to signal their intent to attend the counterprotest.
Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy, said in a statement Tuesday that “inauthentic” administrators of a page called “Resisters” connected with administrators from five legitimate pages to co-host the event and enlist support from “real people” .
“These legitimate Pages were not building enough in 'No Unite Right 2 – DC' and people could get to the protests,” Gleicher wrote.
Gleicher's statement said “Facebook update” on the page. Facebook was also planned to report the issue to approximately 2,600 users who had expressed interest in the event and to more than 600 users who said they planned to attend it.
Andrew Batcher, an organizer for the Shut It Down DC coalition formed to protest Kessler's rally, said the event page created by “Resisters” was taken over and controlled by “a lot of real people doing real work”. Batcher said he had not seen any evidence that any of the administrators for the “Resisters” page was a “bad actor”.
“All the content on the page came from local organizations,” he said. “Facebook took it all down, which I see as a censorship of a real protest event.”
Researchers at the Atlantic Council, a nonprofit working with Facebook to analyze its use between Americans. The accounts are focused on building an online audience and moving it to offline events such as protests.
Facebook did not directly link Tuesday's crackdown to Russia or US midterm elections in the fall. But the company said it was found that some of the money was lost. Facebook, one of the administrators “for only seven minutes”.
“If that's the case, then it's a pretty meaningless infiltration,” Batcher said.
But that discovery “could be a sign of something deeper” and not necessarily the full extent of the IRA account's activity on the page, said Dipayan Ghosh, a former Facebook employee who worked on global privacy and public policy issues for the company .
“It's just raises a bunch of questions that we can not only scratching the surface,” said Ghosh, a fellow at Harvard Kennedy School's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
In February, a federal indictment accused 13 Russians of operating a hidden social media trolling campaign, posing as US activists and posting about divisive political and social issues. Investigators have concluded the Russian coordinated and leveraged support of unwitting Americans in carrying out their campaign.
Kessler scheduled his Aug 12 in Washington to mark the anniversary of the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, where hundreds of white supremacists and counterprotesters clashed in the streets before a car ploughed into a crowd, killing 32-year- old counterprotester Heather Heyer. The National Park Service is approved by Kessler's application for a “white civil rights” rally at Lafayette Square outside the White House, but has not been issued a permit for the event.
Goggans said Facebook's crackdown has been a time-consuming distraction for counterprotest organizers.
“Over the past 18 hours, we've been having to prove we exist,” she said. – AP