Archive for June, 2010

The mysterious disappearance of the Boycott BP fan page from Facebook last night was, apparently, a mistake caused by Facebook’s automated system, or so Facebook says today. Here’s what Facebook told us when we asked why the Boycott BP page was taken down:

Thanks for reaching out to Facebook. The admin profile of the Boycott BP Page was disabled by our automated systems therefore removing all the content that had been created by the profile. After a manual review we determined the profile was removed in error and it has now been restored along with the Page.

TechCrunch has more. But there’s still a lot of room for explanation on Facebook’s part.

In response to Facebook’s decision to remove the Boycott BP page, Public Citizen attorney Greg Beck issued the following statement:

“Late Monday, Facebook shut down the Boycott BP fan page, effectively locking out the page’s more than 700,000 members. After a backlash by users, Facebook reinstated the site this morning. Facebook has not said whether a complaint by BP prompted its decision to terminate the Boycott BP page. Regardless, Facebook’s decision to delete the page without warning or explanation was irresponsible.

Facebook and other social websites have become the public squares of the Internet – places where citizens can congregate as a community to share their opinions and voice their grievances. Facebook’s ownership of this democratic forum carries great responsibility. At the very least, Facebook should provide warning and a reasoned explanation before destroying a large and active community.

It is not clear whether BP is behind the page’s temporary removal. Facebook says the site was removed when the company’s “automated systems” disabled the site owner’s profile, and restored after a manual review “determined the profile was removed in error.” But the company has not explained the cause of the removal or said whether a complaint by BP triggered the process. Companies often complain to Facebook about fan pages that include their names, claiming that viewers will be confused about whether the company sponsors the site. Here, nobody could be confused into believing that a page named “Boycott BP” is run by BP itself. People have a right to criticize a company by name, and BP has no right to stop it.

Note: Public Citizen’s call for a BP boycott can be found at www.BeyondBP.org.”

A few hours ago, Facebook censors removed the Boycott BP fan page, which had almost 800,000 members. It’s unclear why Facebook took the boycott page down. The page’s creator Lee Perkins, who goes by the moniker “Bayou Lee,” immediately created a new page, calling it Boycott bp/Arco. Bayou Lee wrote:

I can’t believe they shut us down with no explanation. I could not even say goodbye to my friends. We must have been doing something right.

Bayou Lee’s page was the largest of many Facebook campaigns aimed against BP for its role in causing the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The question many people were asking Monday night was whether this was a deliberate effort by Facebook to silence BP’s biggest critic.

Could Public Citizen, which has been calling for people to boycott BP by taking the Beyond BP pledge, find itself in a similar situation with its Facebook page, 1,000,000 Strong to Boycott BP?

On June 14th, we received a warning from Facebook that

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This past Saturday a “Hands Across the Sand” event was nothing short of a worldwide movement.

The movement called in order to  “protect of our coastal economies, oceans, marine wildlife, and fishing industry,“  was sponsored by the  multiple environment agencies including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and Friends of the Earth.

People around the world gathered on beaches to share their knowledge,and passion for protecting beaches from devastating effects of oil drilling. They said “No to offshore drilling, and Yes to Clean Energy.”

820 events were scheduled in all 50 states and in 34 countries. Even Florida Govenor Charlie Crist took time to join hands with participates on Florida beaches.

Check out Hand’s Across the Sand’s pictures from the event, and videos of the event.

Also check out Hand’s Across the Sand for more information about the fight against offshore drilling!

Flickr photo by ecotist.

When the Supreme Court ruled last week in favor of Rent-A-Center in another controversial 5-4 decision, the justices again put the interests of corporations above those of the people.

The New York Times published this great editorial about it over the weekend, highlighting the absurdity of SCOTUS’s decision:

The court ruled last Monday there was nothing wrong with requiring that the fairness of an arbitration clause be determined by — an arbitrator.

Congress is working to fix the problems with mandatory binding arbitration agreements as the members hash through the Arbitration Fairness Act (H.R. 1020 and S. 931) and the Fairness in Nursing Home Arbitration Act (H.R. 1237 and S. 512).

While it was scheduled for markup last week, the committee did not get to the AFA and the nursing home bill last Wednesday. Stay tuned for a rescheduled date for Congressional action on these bills because your representatives in Congress will need to hear from you.

Learn more about forced arbitration and the problems with it.

Holman

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives took the first bold step in repairing some of the damage caused by the U.S. Supreme Court’s disastrous decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Public Citizen applauds the passage of the DISCLOSE Act (H.R. 5175) by a 219 to 206 vote. Two Republican members of Congress – Reps. Michael Castle (Del.) and Walter Jones (N.C.) Anh “Joseph” Cao (La.) – stood firm on their principles of promoting transparency in elections and joined in leadership with Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) in pressing for adoption of the measure.

When five justices of the Supreme Court decided unilaterally to rewrite the nation’s campaign finance laws and allow unlimited corporate spending in elections, it became imperative for Congress, at least as a first step, to give voters a chance to know who is paying how much to promote or attack candidates. The DISCLOSE Act, which stands for Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections, provides voters the desperately needed means to decipher campaign messages by revealing the true funding sources behind campaign ads. The measure closes the gaping loopholes in current disclosure laws that allow corporations, unions and wealthy individuals to hide their campaign spending by funneling their money through trade associations and innocuous-sounding front groups. Revealing the funders behind these groups is perhaps the most valuable tool voters can use in evaluating the merits of the campaign messages that are about to besiege them.

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