Facebook’s Nathaniel Gleicher, Head of Cybersecurity Policy, and Oscar Rodriguez, Product Manager, announced that “Today, we’re removing 559 pages and 251 accounts that have consistently broken our rules against spam and coordinated inauthentic behavior.” It is another decision to purge the world’s largest social media site of political speech, and it just might be a final catalyst for mass adoption of an on-chain, censorship-resistant platform, for example, within the Bitcoin Cash network.
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Facebook Purges Hundreds of Pages Under Broad Sweep
Nicholas Bernabe, the founder of popular alternative news organization The Anti-Media, posted how “Facebook has unpublished my page, The Anti-Media, after falsely accusing us of violating policies.” Based in Chula Vista, California, his news page was not anywhere near fraud or spam; it regularly published hard-hitting alternative news articles. Nevertheless, “2.1 million followers and 5 years of work gone,” Bernabe wrote.
Facebook’s blog titled the entry of Oct. 11, 2018, “Removing Additional Inauthentic Activity from Facebook,” leading readers to believe pages and accounts deleted were associated with a version of fraud or scam activity. Indeed, the company insisted, “People need to be able to trust the connections they make on Facebook. It’s why we have a policy banning coordinated inauthentic behavior — networks of accounts or pages working to mislead others about who they are, and what they are doing,” they claimed, adding that “the bulk of the inauthentic activity we see on Facebook is spam that’s typically motivated by money, not politics.”
Sterlin Lujan believes something more sinister is going on. “My long-standing and well-liked page, The Psychologic-Anarchist,” he alerted followers, “has just been unpublished by Fascistbook. I had 50,000+ followers on it. I also noticed that Danilo recently had his Facebook page, Peaceful Anarchism, unpublished for no reason,” he lamented.
‘Facebook is Going After Anarchists and Freethinkers’
When asked why certain pages like his were being targeted, though they never asked for money and never used spam techniques to gain followers, Lujan wrote, “What’s happening is clear. We are victims of censorship. Facebook is going after anarchists and freethinkers. They are censoring people who have the gall to challenge the system and post news stories that contradict the lies spouted by mainstream sources.”
“Given the activity we’ve seen — and its timing ahead of the US midterm elections — we wanted to give some details about the types of behavior that led to this action,” Gleicher and Rodriguez explained of Facebook’s actions. “Many were using fake accounts or multiple accounts with the same names and posted massive amounts of content across a network of groups and pages to drive traffic to their websites. Many used the same techniques to make their content appear more popular on Facebook than it really was. Others were ad farms using Facebook to mislead people into thinking that they were forums for legitimate political debate.”
Of the cursory examination done by news.Bitcoin.com, a significant number of the pages zapped from existence did not engage in any of the activities Facebook cited as the reason for the purge. In addition to the two already highlighted above, political pages such as Free Thought Project, V is for Voluntary, and Press For Truth were caught up in the web of deletion as well. “This definitely seems politically motivated considering most of the pages I’m familiar with that were unpublished leaned libertarian or anarchist,” Bernabe detailed. “With the midterm elections so close, this can be described as nothing other than Facebook trying to manipulate the outcome of the coming elections.”
Could This Trigger More On-Chain BCH Social Media Platform Adoption?
Luis Fernando Borges Mises is also convinced certain pages were taken down on purpose. “All of this is nothing more to me than a neo-Marxist cleanse, if you will,” Mises told news.Bitcoin.com by phone, “…all the liberal pages are still there, all the Republican pages are still there. The ones that are trying to question the status quo, like the voluntaryist pages, are being censored and deleted.”
As these pages explained only a few months ago, alternatives to sites like Facebook are being built on the Bitcoin Cash network. “On April 15 a new on-chain social network was launched for the Bitcoin Cash blockchain called Memo. The platform allows users to create a profile which is tied to a specific BCH address and a public/private key pair. Users can then tether certain data using the program such as a website URL, a quote, or a certain date which is hashed into the BCH chain using an OP_RETURN transaction.”
Still, more alternatives have popped up since, including a “blogging site called Matter [which] has been introduced to the BCH community, and the platform’s actions are all powered by the Bitcoin Cash network. Matter claims to have no access to the user’s key and explains keys are stored only in your browser. Now Matter does have its differences compared to the Blockpress application and Memo, as Matter users can publish arbitrarily long-form posts. Essentially due to the fact the miner’s fee using bitcoin cash is so minimal Matter users can store any document in the BCH chain in an immutable fashion,” news.Bitcoin.com previously reported.
It’s early days to say any of the BCH platforms will ever compete with the billions of users already on Facebook. But there does appear to be renewed interest in making sure content providers are not caught unaware again. “The ‘moderators’ of Facebook have made this into a war of attrition,” Lujan wrote angrily, “meant to stifle the free flow of information. However, this attack against anarchists is not going to silence us. It is going to further invigorate freedom lovers. We are going to continue speaking out against the vile nature of the system. We are also going to continuously paint cowards like Zuckerberg into a corner. These people need to realize that trying shut people up is the first step taken toward total Orwellian fascism.”
Is the Facebook purge a use case for on-chain BCH platforms? Let us know in the comments below.
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Disclaimer: Sterlin Lujan is an employee of Bitcoin.com