Facebook’s Report Abuse button has become a tool of global oppression

The Verge | 9/2/2014 | Russell Brandom
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"All the army forces inside and outside the barracks, assemble," the Facebook post reads. "Read our commands carefully before the raid." A few lines later. "Don't comment. Don't curse. Just report them."

It's military talk, but they're not soldiers. It's a Facebook raid, conducted on July 12th against an independent Vietnamese news site called the Khmer Krom News. Below the post, dozens of comments weigh in with support: "Damn them, let’s finish them off," and "I set up dozens of accounts for this =))"

COMMENT - N'T - CURSE - JUST - REPORT

"DON'T COMMENT. DON'T CURSE. JUST REPORT THEM."

The publication had been too critical of the government, it turns out, and even though most of the commenters are civilians, they’re ready to suit up to make sure the paper can’t keep publishing its critical views. The strategy is simple — rack up enough abuse reports to knock the site off Facebook, effectively cutting it off from its audience. It's a surprising tactic, but it works. Vietnamese groups have counted 44 different journalists and activists who have had their accounts taken down in recent months, including countless more publications. For many, like the journalist Liberty Melinh, the shutdown turns into a permanent hiatus.

Time - Activists - Trouble - Facebook - Service

This isn't the first time activists have run into trouble on Facebook. Despite the service's much-feted role in the Arab Spring, it's also been a place where hostile regimes and their supporters can chase down opposition figures, whether it's Assad-friendly hackers in Syria or Putin-friendly trolls in Russia. But Vietnam is the first place where Facebook’s own policies have been singled out for enabling attacks — in particular, the service's "Report Abuse" button, which is used to flag content that's hostile or inappropriate. The button is designed to protect Facebook users from the same threats and abuse that often run rampant on Twitter and Tumblr, but as the raid...
(Excerpt) Read more at: The Verge
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