Prabhdeep Singh Barua is a young Indian IT expert who oversees Facebook pages for groups and individuals. Facebook administrators also appoint moderators to act as “representatives” to coordinate page edits with other admins. Barua posted that he was praying and applauded the shutdown of a page run by white supremacists. Facebook called his actions in coordination with white supremacists offensive. Barua responded by blaming democracy for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which a neo-Nazi killed a protester.
Facebook has removed page moderators like Barua in the past, but many people used this rare movement as an example of exactly what they wanted Facebook to do to them. Facebook did not go that far – yet.
Several social-justice groups called on Facebook to impose the same kind of ban on Barua – and now the ACLU is acting as their advocate.
“Like many large tech companies, Facebook has refused to recognize hate speech as protected speech. This goes against a universal value, enshrined in international and US law, that criminalizes even protected speech when it is based on intolerance, hostility, violence, hostility toward or repression of particular religious, political, or cultural beliefs.”
The ACLU will help Barua get the book thrown at him. Barua must be immediately arrested and held in contempt until Facebook cancels his account. We will continue to follow his case and will advise Facebook in the meantime.
Disclaimer: I worked for Facebook for less than two years – a time I was there, Facebook shut down my page because I, an Indian nigerian, started sharing page content. I was never sued, they just got rid of me. After the more than 1 million Facebook users signed on to a petition, Facebook changed their system to make it impossible for Facebook admins to talk to each other about pages or groups.