Facebook and Internet Censorship

Facebook has closed a group devoted to Arabs who are LGBT because a coalition of Arab governments threatened to ban the site if they didn’t, according to Boing Boing. While in the legal right, it feels like Facebook did the wrong thing.

This situation reminds me of Google and Yahoo! censoring themselves for China, to avoid being banned completely in that populous country. One of the virtues of the World Wide Web, is that it is, well, world wide. To have friction between the web’s natural state and the web’s biggest companies is not how things should be.

You can’t blame controlling governments for acting to keep their control. But you can blame companies for assisting government policies that restrict the internet. Such moves are at odds with the very virtues of the internet that their livelihood relies upon. Google says, “Don’t do evil.” Yahoo’s mission is, “to connect people to their passions, their communities, and the world’s knowledge.” And according to the website, Facebook “enables people to understand the world around them.” At times like these such statements seem like mere words. The actions of these companies speak volumes.