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.”