Facebook's blocking of accounts signals failure of oversight board

London- Facebook is blocking hundreds of accounts in the MENA region, warns ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies, calling it an early sign of failure of the company’s newly appointed oversight board. 

Facebook seems to abandon its corporate values in countries such as these in the pursuit of further economic growth

The London-based think tank has documented many complaints of account blocking or arbitrary restrictions by from activists, bloggers and journalists in Syria, Tunisia, and the Palestinian territories. ImpACT International calls these actions violations of the right to freedom of opinion. 

The Facebook oversight board should assess the company’s policies in the Middle East, particularly whether the geographic location of its offices impacts human rights-related practices.

Mass blocking of Facebook silences voices and restricts freedom of expression, especially in countries and regions such as Tunisia, Syria and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, ImpACT International says, adding that Facebook seems to abandon its corporate values in countries such as these in the pursuit of further economic growth.

ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies calls on Facebook management to stop blocking bloggers’, journalists’ and activists' accounts, protect the right to opinion and expression guaranteed in international conventions and treaties, and adhere to a code of conduct that prohibits suppression of dissenting voices. 

In an earlier study published in September, ImpACT documented mounting incidents of cooperation between digital powerhouses—which host so much of global conversations—and repressive governments. It further found that when digital companies locate their offices in countries with governments known for human rights violations, they become complicit in efforts to silence dissenters and political opponents. 

For example, Palestinians and citizens of the Gulf have been particularly victimized, with many activists and political opponents subjected to prosecution or restrictions on their freedom of movement and expression.  

ImpACT International points out that the global marketplace has evolved to the extent that multinational companies must consider human rights as well as profits. Hatred, violence and suppression of healthy dissent must not be given the “oxygen” they require to breathe.

Moreover, it calls on multinational companies to commit to a code of ethics that discourages hate and violence, while permitting freedom of speech, including dissent. Governments must be pressured by their citizens and international bodies to adhere to universal principles of fairness and freedom.

 

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