[gG:] Anarchists, Activists, and Left Publishers Respond to Facebook Censorship and Bans of Independent Media from Social Media Platform

Anar­chists, Acti­vists, and Left Publis­hers Respond to Face­book Cen­sor­s­hip and Bans of Inde­pen­dent Media from Social Media Plat­form

Acti­vists Char­ge that Ban Reflects Facebook’s Align­ment with Trump and Jus­ti­ce Department’s Attempts to Exert a Chil­ling Effect on Dis­sent and Pro­test Move­ments

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On August 19, Face­book dele­ted pro­files pro­mo­ting the web­sites of inde­pen­dent publis­hers and media out­lets cri​me​thinc​.com, its​go​ing​down​.org, and dozens of other simi­lar pro­jects, citing their anar­chist poli­tics as a jus­ti­fi­ca­ti­on for ban­ning them. While ack­now­led­ging that the­se groups have no role in orga­ni­zing vio­lence, a state­ment from Face­book broad­ly alle­ges that they are “tied to vio­lence” or “have indi­vi­du­al fol­lo­wers with pat­terns of vio­lent beha­vi­or.” Face­book publicly announ­ced that they are tar­ge­ting over 520 pages that oppo­se fascism or that pro­mo­te mili­tia orga­niz­a­ti­ons, but the com­pa­ny inten­tio­nal­ly refu­sed to dis­tin­guish bet­ween the­se two oppo­sing cate­go­ries or to account for how many of the ban­ned accounts fall into eit­her cate­go­ry.

“Facebook’s ban has not­hing to do with stop­ping vio­lence and ever­ything to do with cracking down on pro­test move­ments. The ban­ning of Cri­me­thInc., It’s Going Down, Trut­hout aut­hor Chris Stee­le, musi­ci­an MC Sole, and other left media out­lets and jour­na­lists in the name of oppo­sing vio­lence is disin­ge­nuous. Face­book con­ti­nues to host and pro­fit off of right-wing media out­lets like Dai­ly Wire that regu­lar­ly pro­mo­te vio­lent racist ideo­lo­gy and con­spi­ra­cy theo­ries that have cata­ly­zed and influ­en­ced vio­lent fascists and white supre­macists on the right. “This is poli­ti­cal cen­sor­s­hip, plain and simp­le,” says Agen­cy spo­kes­per­son, scott crow, an aut­hor and long­time anar­chist orga­ni­zer.

For years, its​go​ing​down​.org, cri​me​thinc​.com, and other inde­pen­dent media out­lets, jour­na­lists, and acti­vist groups tar­ge­ted by Facebook’s decisi­on have cove­r­ed anti-war and anti-racist demons­tra­ti­ons in the United Sta­tes and popu­lar upri­sin­gs in Hong Kong, Bela­rus, and else­whe­re around the world. Sin­ce May, Donald Trump has pos­ted a seri­es of tweets expli­ci­tly bla­ming anar­chists for the coun­try­wi­de wave of pro­tests pre­ci­pi­ta­ted by per­sis­tent poli­ce vio­lence in the United Sta­tes. While Face­book once tou­t­ed its role in Egypt’s 2011 “Arab Spring” upri­sing, the decisi­on to ban publis­hers who cover pro­test move­ments in this coun­try shows that the com­pa­ny is eager to take cues from Trump to sup­press dis­sent in the U.S.

In its state­ment, Face­book expli­ci­tly cate­go­ri­zes anar­chists with far-right mili­ti­as that sup­port the Trump admi­nis­tra­ti­on. This echoes Attor­ney Gene­ral Wil­liam Barr’s decisi­on to crea­te a Depart­ment of Jus­ti­ce task for­ce focu­sed on “anti-government extre­mists” that tar­gets self-pro­c­lai­med fascists and anti-fascists ali­ke, attemp­t­ing to draw a fal­se equi­va­lence bet­ween tho­se who orga­ni­ze white supre­macist attacks and tho­se who orga­ni­ze to pro­tect their com­mu­nities from them.

After a self-pro­c­lai­med fascist mur­de­red anti-racist orga­ni­zer Hea­ther Heyer during the “Unite the Right” mobi­liz­a­ti­on in Char­lot­tes­vil­le in August 2017, tre­men­dous grass­roots pres­su­re aro­se to remo­ve fascists and white supre­macists from social media plat­forms. Now, by con­trast, the push is com­ing from the very top of the hier­ar­chy, at a time when pro­test move­ments and the publis­hers that give them a plat­form are essen­ti­al to crea­ting a nati­on­wi­de dia­lo­gue about vio­lence and opp­res­si­on. This is a coun­ter­at­tack from tho­se in power against web­sites that publish per­spec­ti­ves from tho­se who mobi­li­ze against fascists. It is not a coin­ci­dence that it occurs on the heels of Trump mobi­li­zing federal for­ces to Port­land, Ore­gon, pre­ci­pi­ta­ting weeks of street con­flict, and just a mat­ter of days after spo­kes­per­sons for the extre­me right refer­red spe­ci­fi­cal­ly to its​go​ing​down​.org and cri​me​thinc​.com in pre­pa­red tes­ti­mo­ny to the Sena­te.

In fact, Face­book has no objec­tion to pro­vi­ding a plat­form for tho­se who pro­mo­te and enga­ge in violence—the plat­form glad­ly hosts poli­ce depart­ments, mili­ta­ry groups, she­riffs who car­ry out evic­tions, Immi­gra­ti­on and Cus­toms Enfor­ce­ment offi­cers who sepa­ra­te child­ren from their fami­lies, and indi­vi­du­als who sup­port tho­se insti­tu­ti­ons and acti­vi­ties, many of whom have demons­tra­ted “pat­terns of vio­lent beha­vi­or.” The publis­hers that Face­book has ban­ned have shared the sto­ries of tho­se who seek to pro­tect their com­mu­nities from the vio­lence that both white supre­macists and sta­te insti­tu­ti­ons per­pe­tra­te. Facebook’s par­ti­san decisi­on to prio­ri­ti­ze ban­ning publis­hers while hos­ting pages that pro­mo­te mili­tia orga­ni­zing or spread mis­in­for­ma­ti­on about COVID-19 speaks volu­mes about the kind of vio­lence the com­pa­ny does sup­port and the kind of socie­ty Face­book aims to fos­ter.

“Cri­me­thInc. are the poets and intel­lec­tu­als of a tru­ly free socie­ty,” said David Gra­eber, aut­hor of Debt: The First 5000 Years and pro­fes­sor of anthro­po­lo­gy at the Lon­don School of Eco­no­mics, in respon­se to the news of the Face­book ban. “If anar­chist publi­shing has any com­mon the­me, it is to dream of a socie­ty in which orga­ni­zed vio­lence and the thre­at of sys­te­ma­tic vio­lence would not exist, whe­re the­re would never be a situa­ti­on in which groups of men with sticks and guns and bombs would be able to threa­ten others. This is not just a legi­ti­ma­te poli­ti­cal posi­ti­on, it’s a vital, essen­ti­al, necessa­ry one. Not­hing could con­ceiva­b­ly be more vio­lent than to tell us—and par­ti­cu­lar­ly our young people—we are for­bid­den to even dream of a peace­ful, caring, world.”

To arran­ge an inter­view about this sto­ry, plea­se con­ta­ct agent@​anarchistagency.​com

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