作者:Jerry 来源:未知 2020-07-13

Middle East & Africa


Facebook and autocrats


With friends like these


The social-media giant has been bending to the will of Arab despots


For Sariya Al-bitar, an architect in Syria’s war-torn city of Idlib, the message was devastating. “Your account has been permanently disabled for not following our Facebook Community Standards,” read the note from the social-media giant. “Unfortunately, we won’t be able to reactivate it for any reason.” Fourteen years of family photos, reminiscences and his diary of Syria’s civil war—along with his list of 30,000 followers—were erased. Mr Bitar had tried to be careful. He had not called dead rebels shahids (martyrs) or posted gore. He suspects Facebook silenced him for commemorating a Syrian football star who, after months of protesting, picked up arms and was killed by the regime of Basharal-Assad.


In a region ruled by despots, Facebook claims to give “free expression maximum possible range”. That has won it a vast following. The platform has more users in the Gulf states than anywhere else in the world, relative to the population. It is the main source of news for many Arabs. Some even credit it for the Arab spring protests of 2011. But since going public in 2012, Facebook has grown more mindful of the authoritarians who provide it with access, say critics, and less hospitable to activists. In recent months it has culled hundreds of users from Tunisia to Iran and deleted hundreds of thousands of posts. “Many people feel that Facebook is no longer a platform they can use to hold the powerful to account,” says Marwa Fatafta of Access Now, a pressure group. Add to that Facebook’s challenges in America, where it has lost a slew of advertisers over its failure to police hateful content.

在一个由专制统治者统治的地区,Facebook声称会给予“自由表达的最大可能范围”。这为它赢得了大量的追随者。与人口相比,这个平台在海湾国家拥有的用户比世界上任何地方都多。它是许多阿拉伯人的主要新闻来源。一些人甚至把它归功于2011年的阿拉伯之春抗议活动。但批评人士说,自2012年上市以来,Facebook越来越关注那些为其提供访问权限的威权主义者,而对积极分子们的热情也越来越低。近几个月来,从突尼斯到伊朗,它已经剔除了数百名用户,并删除了数十万条帖子。“很多人觉得,Facebook不再是一个他们可以用来让权贵们承担责任的平台,”压力集团AccessNow的Marwa Fatafta表示。再加上Facebook在美国面临的挑战,它在美国失去了一大批广告商,原因是它未能监管恶劣内容。

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