Story at a glance

  • Facebook suspended the personal accounts of more than 200 users, affecting dozens of environmental and Indigenous activists.
  • The company said it was a mistake and restored many of the accounts.
  • Activists are suspicious of the social media giant despite a commitment to fighting misinformation.

A few days before a planned protest against private equity company KKR & Co., Indigenous organizers found themselves locked out of the Facebook event, unable to post or send messages. Theirs was one of more than 200 personal accounts, many of which were admins of environmental and Indigenous groups and pages, suspended by Facebook for several days.

“Our systems mistakenly removed these accounts and content. They have since been restored and we’ve lifted any limits imposed on identified profiles," a Facebook spokesperson told Changing America. 


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Many of the accounts, which activists told the Guardian were suspended for an alleged “intellectual property rights violation,” have since been restored. But some aren’t buying Facebook’s explanation.

“The timing was more than suspect,” Delee Nikal, whose Facebook page was affected by the suspensions, told Canada's National Observer. "We would like to have transparency in this situation."

The suspensions came less than a week after Facebook publicly committed to reducing the distribution of climate misinformation and applying warning labels on claims debunked by their fact checkers. 


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"Climate change is real," said the social media platform that climate change deniers often use to spread misinformation. 

Facebook partners with more than 70 independent fact-checking organizations in more than 60 languages that help identify false or misleading information, but founder Mark Zuckerburg has refused to remove them entirely. 

“Actions speak louder than words and once again Facebook has taken actions that are in stark contrast to public statements from the company,” Elizabeth Jardim, senior corporate campaigner at Greenpeace USA — whose pages were also affected — told the Guardian. “The recent bans targeting people fighting to save their communities from climate change and the continued exploitation of fossil fuel companies show us that when push comes to shove, Facebook will side with polluters at the cost of their users’ trying to organize.”


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Published on Sep 22, 2020