Facebook celebrates royal wedding by nuking 50 protest groups

What better way to honor a royal wedding than to crack down on free speech? Facebook celebrated the William and Kate wedding by nuking 50 groups that were created to protest the ongoing sweetheart deal in the UK for bankers and companies that get away with paying hardly any tax, and the cuts to services for tax-paying normal people that result from these posh tax-cheats.

Facebook is not suited to the purpose of organizing political causes. It may be an easy place to mobilize people, but between it capricious management and the ease of mining it for social graphs, it is an authoritarian secret policeman's best friend and a censor's bosom buddy.

Open Birkbeck, UWE Occupation, Chesterfield Stopthecuts, Camberwell AntiCuts, IVA Womensrevolution, Tower Hamlets Greens, No Cuts, ArtsAgainst Cuts, London Student Assembly, Beat'n Streets, Roscoe 'Manchester' Occupation, Bristol Bookfair, Newcastle Occupation, Socialist Unity, Whospeaks Forus, Ourland FreeLand, Bristol Ukuncut, Teampalestina Shaf, Notts-Uncut Part-of UKUncut, No Quarter Cutthewar, Bootle Labour, Claimants Fightback, Ecosocialists Unite, Comrade George Orwell, Jason Derrick, Anarchista Rebellionist, BigSociety Leeds, Slade Occupation, Anti-Cuts Across Wigan, Firstof Mayband, Don't Break Britain United, Cockneyreject, SWP Cork, Westiminster Trades Council, York Anarchists, Rock War, Sheffield Occupation, Central London SWP, North London Solidarity, Southwark Sos, Save NHS, Rochdale Law Centre, Goldsmiths Fights Back

Of course, it wasn't just Facebook. London's cops were out in force, ensuring that pensioners were prevented from staging harmless street theatre that mocked the royal family.

Political Facebook Groups Deleted On Royal Wedding Day (Thanks, Maggie and Ross!)


  1. So, since Facebook is a for-profit company, which makes all its users “agree” to some kind of tos, its ok for them to delete pages they don’t agree with politically?

    I think FB is great for finding and keeping in touch with old friends and acquaintances. But despite the good-guy reputation they got during the Egypt and other North Africa uprisings, I guess they’re really just another big bucks, immoral money grubbing corporation. Too bad.

  2. I really hate facebook for all those political moves, and then just refuse to admit they were trying to shut people up.

    They just deleted the profile of Wang Dan a few weeks ago, just in time when the Chinese government took Ai Weiwei under custody for no reason. How cooperative of them for the governments.

  3. Reminder: Social media are a lot less open than the web.

    The way things are going, unless we get net neutrality enshrined in law, the open web isn’t likely to remain fully open, either.

    International trends suggest that the left is going to have to go underground within the next decade. They won’t be able to communicate reliably and privately using any of the media controlled by Fascists (in the pure definition; that is, the amalgam of govermnent and corporations). Thus leftists had better be thinking now about how they’ll communicate and work together when that happens.

    That might be old media, not new. Maybe some form of packet radio? a wifi based private network? Sneakernet on flash memory? I’m grasping at straws here; any other ideas?

  4. Well, either the UK government ordered Facebook to delete those groups, or those groups were just a subset of a much larger (and non-political mundane) purge.

    The only explanation I heard was that these groups were created as individual accounts, instead of as organizations. If Facebook regularly deletes a thousand of those a month, then this could all be coincidence + selection bias.

    I’m hope they issue a response.

  5. Terminology matters here. Facebook didn’t delete 50 pages; they deleted 50 profiles that were not real people. These profiles were living on borrowed time as any non-person profile that’s reported gets nuked, regardless of content. So, while this was undoubtedly a political act, it was not Facebook’s political act.

    Storm in a teacup. If you don’t want your political page deleted, make it a page, not a profile.

  6. Facebook is entirely suited to organizing political causes, as long as those causes are about how much better “it” can’t get.

  7. Facebook is a private organisation, there’s no such thing as ‘free speech’. So get over it.

    There’s not really any such thing as privacy either – which is why I nuked my account there.

    1. But they could choose to be neutral and instead they’ve chosen to be evil and that’s what this entire post is complaining about.

  8. The very minute I started using the general Internet in 2000 I was confronted by censorship and deletion on basic message boards and in general website discussion areas. I can’t speak for anyone else, but the Internet is no place to expect to be treated fairly. This is entirely due to the ability to cloak, hide (whatever) one’s identity. This ability to hide also gives people the strange right to insult others, censor others and to delete the existences of others.

    Yes, Facebook is not the jolly Disneyland social network of our dreams. But at least there’s slight truth in the fact that people’s identities are more above board

    For me, the royal wedding is slightly on the same par as getting my eyes gouged out and pushed off a cliff – it means nothing, though it was a pretty spectacle. History shows us that many use such spectacle to assert their own political agenda. Whatever floats your boat, I guess. But trying to organize serious, hardcore politics on Facebook seems a little odd. It’s kind of like trying to organize a revolution in the middle of the Disney tea cups

  9. I’ve always thought the whole free speech conundrum could be summed up with the government preventing it. Last time I checked, Facebook is hardly a government and is more a private entity. They can censor whatever they want, or whatever they are paid to censor. Am I wrong, or has someone hit Corys funnybone and this is a kneejerk reaction?

  10. Facebook disgusts me, but when you look at the absolute dick that runs the company, it all makes sense.

  11. The organisations named all broke the Terms of Use by creating a ‘profile’ for a organisation. The ToU state that you can only have personal profiles, but make provision for groups with ‘pages’. It’s pretty clear when you sign up. RTFM and stop whining.

    It was probably just a low level db admin cleaning up the files and indexes, on what was likely to be a low impact day. Most users benefited from this action.

    Facebook is a *USA* company who have a habit of flipping the bird at *anyone* who tells them how to do business. It’s hard to imagine how the Queen, or the British Government, or British Police could have successfully exerted pressure on them to do anything on any day.

    1. @Jay, Thank you! I had a mouth full of crow after a “Facebook will own all of your content” posting I reposted like Paul Revere. Shit. An the idiot “clarified” his statement in the fucking comments section. So I didn’t have to scroll far to find your explanation and I read the terms you mentioned and posted the following on my FB account pointing to this BB article:

      “Facebook CORRECTLY deleted these accounts. All broke Facebook’s Terms of Use by creating a ‘profile’ for an organisation. All profiles must be created by one person using their real name. One profile, one person. One person can then create a “page”. Repeat, a political organization can NOT have a personal profile, an organization is NOT one person”.

  12. Cory, why summarily yoke these two items together? They’re both interesting and valid, but attempting to conflate them uncomfortably under the Royal Wedding thing doesn’t act as a force-mutliplier at all, because the link is so arbitrary and tenuous: rather it has the knock-on effect of diluting the reaction to each of the stories because you seem – really uncharacteristically – to be reaching a bit in conflating the two…

    1. I’m not even sure what two items you’re talking about. Is it because the deleted pages weren’t protesting against the royal wedding?

      Well, sure, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t why they were shut down. The police and the media evidently can’t tell the difference between different activists for different causes with different political beliefs.

      This week the Metropolitan police have been releasing statements equating all protest with criminal activity. Newspapers have lapped it up, labelling anyone who wanted to protest for any cause on Friday a “potential anarchist”.

      On Thursday they raided a series of legal squats and community projects, arresting anyone they could think of a charge for (like “abstraction of electricity”) and banning them from central London until next week, in an operation they admit was brought forward ahead of the wedding.

      None of these people were planning to protest against the wedding – they were mainly anti-cuts activists. Didn’t stop the police deliberately restricting their movement on the wedding day. Dissent is dissent and they don’t want it.

      1. The two items are:

        1) a US corporation possibly behaving with corporate self interest in the way any corp, US or otherwise would – no surprise there then.

        2) The Met(?) possibly overreacting, certainly moving pre-emptively and behaving with heavy-handed, and quite amusingly camera-aware ‘good manners’ as they do so.

        Unless we’re subscribing to the Bilderbergs and the Illuminati being behind all of this, they’re so unconnected as to be irrelevant, unless we’re arguing so generally that all bad s**t is the result of oppression by ‘the Man’, man. And arguing that generally is also known as pointlessly blowing hot air and preaching to the choir, something this site rather magnificently doesn’t do as a rule.

  13. Oh please, Facebook flips the bird when it can get away with it.

    Even Google has to bend and spread ’em when presenting their search results here in Germany.

    They all love their image of being open and free and “no the government”, but they also love their dollars, euros, pounds and yuans much, much more.

    Besides, Cory doesn’t say that they did this at the behest of any government. They most probably did this on their own. And very likely for the reasons you mentioned.

    That it happened at the same days as the wedding was just a happy coincidence, reminding people that facebook is for sharing pictures, farming smurfberries and being “fans” of products.

    That’s what it was designed to be for and that’s what it will remain.

    Though I don’t think that it is that big of a problem – the people who are afraid to follow a link beyond the “You are now leaving FaceBook”-FUD are the ones who would also not even “like” one of those protest groups.

  14. I’m curious:
    If William and Kate are “such nice, regular folks”, why aren’t they putting their foot (feet?) down and stopping these anti-democratic police actions?

    rabatjoie: thanks for the link!

    1. Because they can’t.

      It’s my impression that even royalist Britons well, most of them – wouldn’t accept actual political intervention by them.

      I guess they like the fact that they have a head of state they can either revere or bitch about, but they don’t have to take the blame, because no one elected them.

  15. What better way to attempt to ride on the coattails of a popular event than to try to link a royal wedding with groups that stupidly cross the TOU & get deleted.

    Does Occams razor mean nothing? Must _everything_ be a conspiracy?

    1. “Why would anyone choose to use Facebook?”

      The most common reasons are:

      Lack of cognitive skills
      Total absence of the ability to think critically
      Fascination with shiny objects
      Unfulfilled “Attention Whore Deficit Disorder”

  16. BB sure has gotten good at implying causation where none exists. I guess it’s about farming for clickthroughs off Google and Bing? And flying the “freedom of speech” banner when they know full-well that a private concern can edit/delete posts and accounts at-will on their own websites…as BB has done itself…without any fear of violating any ensconced freedoms.

    Instead of obliquely implying some ominous nexus between the Royals and the deletion of a raft of Facebook profiles, it would have been more accurate to simply state that Facebook made Friday “Deletion Day.”

    1. > it would have been more accurate to simply state that Facebook
      > made Friday “Deletion Day.”

      How do you know the timing wasn’t influenced by the wedding? Are you seriously suggesting that the timing isn’t suspicious?

      And furthermore, what about the deeper issue of people trusting Facebook when use it to organize? If Facebook is going to be the “new web” (don’t laugh, many people think it is), and if they’re going to selectively delete pages, then they become an arbiter of causes, which is frickin scary given their nature as a closed and capricious company.

      1. That’s a seriously tight foil hat your wearing there.

        No, I don’t see anything suspicious about the deletions occurring on the wedding day. This will come as a shock, I’m sure, but a good chunk of the planet just don’t give a fig about the royal wedding. Businesses, doubly-so.

        Yeah, Facebook is a crap outfit. No question about it. Facebook as the “new web”? Probably. Mass communication always falls into the hands of the corporate elite. Always. To think the web will avoid that fate is naive. It suck, to be sure, but I don’t know what you can do about it, since everything runs on money.

        But, to suggest that this bunch of deletions have anything to do with the wedding, borders on Glen Beck-levels of foil-hattery.

        1. > But, to suggest that this bunch of deletions have anything to do
          > with the wedding, borders on Glen Beck-levels of foil-hattery.

          Maybe you’re right, but maybe you’re not.

          Either way, the bigger point of groups possibly putting too much trust in Facebook is pretty profound considering their new status as the rallying point for revolutions.

    2. @Thorz, You’re right on point. I never expected BB to “lie by omission”, You and I know more than just those 50 were deleted.

      Cory, post the ENTIRE list of profiles/pages/groups/fan pages deleted during that same time period.

      This article actually made me feel more confident using Facebook. If Mark was not at the helm, much worse would happen and we all know it. I use to complain a lot about privacy and shit like that. But guess what? It’s Free! Its a trade off. I get a free social network, reconnected with people I have not see or heard from in 30 years and re-formed great friendships.

      Finally, the TofS makes a lot of sense, One person, one profile. Then a group with an administrator can be formed and pages under profiles can be created. This builds a system of responsibility. FB’s TofS distinctly makes profiles owners, page and group administrators directly responsible in how they use/misuse content.

  17. In my business I am expected to be knowledgeable about FB.

    And in this small world, I can’t say anything critical about it, lest it come back to bite me.

    But I hate FB. I hate their walled-garden, their sneaky way of using information and pictures for their own gain, their continuous revision of their privacy policy, …

  18. Staging an exectution of a person who is still alive today is sick – just sick. The police were surprisingly calm and gentle with them as they were elderly but it’s still their job to keep the peace. Those people went out with the specific intention of offending people and causing a rukus, if those were an anti-religion group staging an execution of Mohammad, or an anti-American group staging an execution of Obama no one would be batting an eyelid on them being removed.

    Furthermore Facebook is a social networking site and not the place to be furthering your political agenda – though many people do do it – and it’s pretty common for large private businesses to censor poliical groups on their sites to prevent unneccsary conflict and douchebaggery. You don’t see guilds in WoW called ‘The British National Party’ do you?

    Normally I appreciate your articles but you seem to be hate mongering here which is utterly pointless.

  19. According to the Guardian, Facebook claims that the deletions were made as part of a large swath of deletions of “fake” profiles, ie., profiles of non-persons. Facebook now provides a “business account” vs. a general user account, whereby a business can sign up and create pages/groups without having them tied to an individual, and says they have sent emails warning owners of “fakes” to convert them to business accounts lest they face deletion, and that they will send new emails instructing them on how to recover their accounts in order to convert them.


    Still, I am extremely disconcerted about Facebook’s power to simply destroy people’s hard work developing networks on a whim.

    Another recent controversy involves the fact that Facebook will take down pages for false DMCA complaints, without investigating the legitimacy of those complaints or giving users an opportunity to respond to those complaints before their accounts are deactivated.


    Facebook’s success as a platform depends on having a thriving user base. By demonstrating such contempt for its users rights and freedoms, Facebook is begging for the public to abandon it for a new platform that would offer greater levels of autonomy and privacy. Unfortunately, I am presently unconvinced that Diaspora will be that platform.

  20. I love it when people say private entities can do whatever they want. Not a problem until those entities start larger and larger chunks of the public and the government starts handing over previously public control to them (privitization).

    Sorry but when you become a defacto government you are no longer private.

  21. Yesterday didn’t only mark uk steps back in free speech. A second riot in 2 weeks due to squat evictions was helped along by a heavy police presence in the stokes croft cultural quarter in bristol, and many london anarchists and potential protesters were arrested in time for the wedding. Squats were evicted and lots of spaces closed as a result of precrime/preemptive police activity. The alternative spaces included a heathrow gardening group. A look around the remainder of facebook, twitter with #stokescroft hashtag and many blogs documents this much more than I can..

  22. I’ve just read the Terms page of Facebook, & a reading of it doesn’t support the assertions by Jared Earle, jayarava, & others that the organizations were deleted for violating TOS. There is nothing in the TOS that says groups can’t set up private accounts. In fact, there is no mention of ‘business accounts’ in the TOS.
    To assert that because FB is a private company means they can delete whoever they want is bullshit. This is not a freedom of speech issue, it is a Net Neutrality issue. Telegraph & telephone companies were not allowed to refuse to give accounts to groups because they were communist, anarchist, fascist, a hate group or radical. The same principle applies to Facebook.

    1. Facebook owns their servers. Your profile is nothing but a couple of database entries in their database.

      It makes a mockery of private property. If I host a database on my computer keeping track of my county’s bake sales, on what ground might I be obligated to host information about any bake sales or other stuff that I don’t want to.

      Still, I’m not buying the justificiations for this ‘coincidence.’ Even if they had the legal/moral right to do this, or it was a TOS thing, it’s still bullshit and reflects very badly on them. I have been using FB a lot less the last six months or so, and am considering nuking my account entirely.


      How complicated is the code to FaceBook, exactly? Their global CDS is probably highly sophisticated, but the core function itself always seemed quite simple.

      What the world needs is an OPEN SOURCE NON PROFIT FACEBOOK.

      With roughly the same set of capabilities (minus the apps, the bullshit, and maybe the video).

      But owned by a non profit foundation, with an unalterable charter: the core principles are privacy, the user experience, protecting the user, and preventing data mining.

      Actually, I don’t even care if it’s non-profit or not. Bandwidth and techies are not cheap, and simple ads (based on explicit opt-in of information for targeting) are the best way to offset this.

      Or, run it on a donation system.

      FB provides a valauble service – a platform for people to connect with each other, share and discuss ideas, and plan events.

      But Facebook has just become too big. It needs to be replaced. How hard would it be to replace the core functionality of FB?

      I bet you could set the whole thing up for a few million dollars, and run it every year on a few million dollars. I think that is something the privacy minded people of the internet could get behind…

  23. Why the hell would you use Facebook for anything other then play a dumb web game or posting pictures of your cat to your friends and family??

    I think people are being rather stupid in thinking that they can organize any real protest or controversial groups on a site that’s pretty much Disneyland for the 2010’s.

    Find a Usenet, hell, make a site yourself, but don’t go thinking you can just trapse onto a conservative-by-nature site to push either side of a political agenda.

  24. Precrime arrests! Unauthorized perception will not be allowed if it does not support the ideals of the Corporatocracy.

  25. Freedom of the press belongs to the man who owns and operates one. You knew they could do this when you signed the user agreement.

    If it bothers you, feel free to organize a boycott of Facebook, or of Facebook advertisers … or to try to do so; I’m honestly not convinced that enough of the FB crowd would care to make a boycott successful.

    Or start your own site which follows *your* idea of appropriate content, and try to draw an audience. If it was easy, FB would have more competition… but it can be done.

  26. “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.”- Benito Mussolini

    Our current system of corporate and state power is, of course, far more complex than Mussolini and other early fascists ever imagined.
    It pretends to offer choices, but ultimately boils down to the same thing, and is best termed “soft fascism”- a kinder gentler way of being screwed out of freedom and democracy.

  27. I’m not saying the two are linked, but if I wanted to do something that had the potential to cause bad publicity for my company, you bet your arse I’d do it during the royal wedding. Seriously; in the last two days there have been maybe two articles on the BBC News’ “Most Shared/Read” section that aren’t to do with the wedding. Note also how all the groups deleted are UK-based.

    It’s not a global conspiracy or any crap like that, but people who are media savvy use massive media events to quickly bury bad news. Who’s going to report on this when “OMG! Shiny Wedding!” is guaranteed to be the lead story on every news outlet? No outcry, no harm to share price, no-one but those affected drectly even know. Standard operating procedure IMO.

  28. Lots of facebook protectors here. Almost seems like some heavy PR ;)

    Facebook is being financed by various bodies for political reasons. It doesn’t matter where on the globe those things are taking place, Facebook will follow orders from those who invest in it.
    David Cameron is in direct contact with Zuckerberg, you can find videos of it if you want.
    Those groups should make a class action lawsuit, both against the government and against Facebook.

  29. waa! waa! facebook this, facebook that.

    he is an idea… don’t like the product (and facebook is the product of a corporation, not a soapbox on a street corner)?

    don’t use it.

    don’t like a country enforcing their laws on servers and sites on those servers physically located within the borders of their country? don’t like a corporation enforcing it’s own terms of use within the bounds of their product/site?

    build YOUR OWN server in a country where the law of the land supports your ideals and do as you please.


    work with what you have, be smart about it, and know the limits of the tools you have chosen to use. there is nothing on facebook TOS that says you can not voice an opinion, just HOW you voice it.

    get smart already, we need you to help fix this messed up world; instead of whining like a spanked toddler.

  30. I’m, (notice ‘I’m’ – we weren’t all groups) still trying to get my account back from Faceache as I write but they won’t shut me up I’m back on there now with a different profile. If you’d like to read the correspondence between Faceache and myself your welcome to have a look at my account of the 28th/29th April titled ‘What do the royal wedding a Professor of Anthropology, an east end actor, the Metropolitan Police, Facebook and some Anarchists all have common?’ @ http://anarchistdaze.wordpress.com

    p.s BB staff. Just out of interest how did you get hold of the names of the groups and people launched from Faceache?

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