Facebook and Twitter Censor WikiLeaks Supporters

Whatever good – or harm – WikiLeaks is doing for U.S. diplomatic security, reputation, and policy is highly debatable. Some companies WikiLeaks relied upon, including Amazon, PayPal, and its DNS service, have decided to not get stuck in the middle of the politics, canceling the accounts WikiLeaks used to conduct business. On Wednesday, Facebook and Twitter joined ranks and also banned accounts associated with supporters of WikiLeaks – primarily, any accounts associated with “Operation Payback,” which was run by the hacker group “Anonymous.”

Initially, Facebook made a statement earlier in the week that they would not ban content unless it clearly violated their polices. While the WikiLeaks fan page has not been removed yet, Facebook has indicated they will not disclose what future action they may take on the account. However, the attacks by “Operation Payback” on Visa and other websites triggered Facebook to ban Operation Payback content. What originally seemed like an indication of Facebook’s policy of open, free-speech now seems to demonstrate that Facebook is willing to ban accounts that utilize free-speech to harm others.

In a more blatant move to censor speech through social media that could cause harm, Twitter has also banned content that mentions “Operation Payback.” Recently, Twiter has notably failed to stream #WikiLeaks in any trending topics list. In a blog post on Wednesday, Twitter explains this is because the trending topics algorithms compare how long Twitter users have been tweeting about a topic to how quickly tweets are occurring about the trend – the longer and less frantic the subject mater, the more it becomes a “topic” and less a “trend.” Like Facebook, Twitter’s initial reaction to #WikiLeaks appeared to indicate a complete lack of censorship over their users. However, Twitter now appears to be exercising some authority over what users share to protect other users from harm – Twitter explicitly banned the accounts associated with “Anonymous” because they were “hateful” and “threatening.”

Are Twitter and Facebook right to censor fans of Wikileaks? Does it really protect us from harmful content? Or do you think social media should still be a place of open, free-speech?

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  • Shava Neras

    Saying that banning 4chan led OP is strike against “open free speech” is a bit like saying that if I object to you letting your rabid dog run off-leash, I’m messing with your right to free assembly. You’d have to be really coy (and know nothing about 4chan, or /b) to consider Operation Payback anything but what it technically was: the stolen resources of a bunch of unwilling malware-zombied pc users (illegal botnet) used by a bunch if Internet bullies (please, go visit /b, see how long you last) to leverage a naive torch and pitchfork mob into believing they were effecting positive change by hitting a button on a dispatch signal.

    Social media dies under the weight of enough trolls. What you saw yesterday was an attack on financial players, but feed the trolls enough power, and piss them off just a bit, and they’ll gleefully take your site down too. 4chan/anonymous didn’t *need* their army of trained rats to hit all those levers at once. They only needed the botnet. They involved a crowd to make it look like mass civil disobedience. They didn’t need crowdsourced trained rats to take down any prior entity on their enemies list (Scientology,…) and frankly, programming is a lot easier to scale than a zillion geeks waiting to push buttons by hand.

    4chan is far more likely to be the end of free speech than it’s protectors – they have as unflexible ideas of *who* should be allowed free speech as any enemy of Wikileaks.

    But that’s a distraction from the source (4chan’s rented botnet), and the intention (intimidation, not

  • Philihp

    I, for one, can’t wait for wikileaks to release documents validating government censorship.

  • D

    On the other hand…you’ve seen companies being contacted by the US government and the result is banning/censorship of WikiLeaks and their funding sources.

    I don’t agree with the hackers either…but they are showing that if you get enough people who believe in something strongly enough…they are willing to take on the US government and the cohorts…the businesses. What scares the US government/businesses the most is these hackers are willing to stand up and not take their BS any longer. I say…it’s about time someone starts standing up for what they believe and actually do something.

    I also believe WikiLeaks has started a trend I hope continues…even if it means muffling the US government/businesses. The reason…when the first three words of the US Constitution starts off with “We the People”…rather than “We the Government and Businesses…means “We…the People” are responsible for the treasonous actions of those in charge.

    • Justen Robertson

      Fascistbook will do what fascistbook does so that’s no surprise, but that Twitter is banning accounts… I hope it’s banning DOJ, FBI, CIA, other alphabet soup, political, and military users who are calling for Assange’s assassination if being “hateful and threatening” is ban-worthy. Anonymous is threatening to break websites for a few hours at a time, these people are threatening murder. I think there’s a clear line of separation here.

  • Irock

    Yes, they have a right to restrict what is said on their private property, just like you have the right to kick anyone out of your house that says something you don’t like. They can do whatever they want with their websites.

  • Unknown

    Facebook and twitter has the right to do whatever they want, just like how you (Chris) can ban people from your chat room. If it violates the first amendment or not.

  • galootaurus

    Facebook still allows you to draw a portrait of Assange by stragically placing grass huts in CastawayTown®.

  • me

    “Some companies WikiLeaks relied upon, including Amazon, PayPal, and its DNS service, have decided to not get stuck in the middle of the politics, canceling the accounts WikiLeaks used to conduct business.”

    Come on. By cancelling legitimate use of their services when no crime has been committed, no charges made, that IS getting stuck into the politics, surely you see that. It is unprecedented.

    And as for Facebook or Twitter having the “right to ban users from their private property”, are the ethics of doing so not an issue here? Or are we supposed to just accept that freedom of expression no longer exists?

    This is war now, truth versus propaganda, censorship, secrecy and abuse. There are some things worth fighting for.

  • bgkarma

    “Devices” is not at all showing showing up in the Organizer window. Am I missing something?

  • http://allaboutereading.com/ Bakari

    Thanks for this tutorial. Really like this functionality. So much quicker to switch between apps.

  • Angelo Carosio

    XCode and the iOS SDK will only run on a Mac. So your solutions are to use a friends/work/school Mac to do it or run an OSX VMWare image.

  • Test

    how do you turn it off on Xcode?

  • http://twitter.com/BryceGeekNZ Bryce Beattie

    no, these arent public release gestures yet, apple arent demanding anything. The gestures r in beta

  • http://twitter.com/dave_newton Dave Newton

    No.

  • Jeremy Clarke

    FWIW: I gave up on the old version and bought the new version in the app store. Took a long time to download but it is SO worth $5 for these new gestures, they are AWESOME!