Facebook Takes Down Roger Ebert Fan Page

Update: Roger Ebert tweeted that Facebook put back up his Facebook page. All is well in the world!

Before you start really embracing Facebook for business, consider the story of well-known film critic Roger Ebert who tweeted this morning that Facebook took down his fan page after receiving complaints.

Ebert: “Facebook has removed my page in response, apparently, to malicious complaints from one or two jerks.”

Ebert took a screen shot of the notice he received from Facebook:

The language in the take down notice is worth noting. Facebook cites a few reasons for why it takes down pages. It will take down pages that are not for business or promotional use. They will also take down pages that they deem hateful and attack individuals.

This is the problem with social networks of any kind and have to be taken into consideration. YouTube is also known to take down videos for what it deems copyright violations. Often, it’s an automated process that leads to the take down.

And there are repercussions. Facebook will permanently remove an account if they believe the page violates its policy as stated in the notice Ebert received.

Ebert is a film critic. He observes the world and gives his opinions, which often can be sharp and get a few people a bit upset.

But what Facebook is doing here should be critically reviewed.  It’s actions like these that have a chilling effect. People are at the the heart of the Internet. It has a tradition for serving as a medium for expression. This kind of policy only dulls its vibrancy.

It’s especially concerning for the looping effect that this kind of action can create. Facebook censors pages and as a result, businesses discourage its employees from being critical.

And that’s too bad. The world would be one dull place if people kept their opinions to themselves.

Further, it’s a dishonor to the pioneers who embraced the Internet through blogging and other forms of online media. Their vitality and strength gave power to the medium we know today as social media. Without opinion, social media is toothless. It’s just another bland medium, more commercial than expressive.

We can’t have that.  The question about terms of service deserves debate. Facebook should look inward and act transparently in a discussion that in the end will only help their cause.