The social media giant recently launched a campaign called the Online Civil Courage Initiative. This initiative was started with support from the German government, according to Mirror, and it aims to clamp down on hate speech and extremism on the internet.
Although the focus seems to be intended for groups like ISIS and far right wing racism, it still treads the fine line of censorship on the internet. And if this initiative is being used to censor publications because not everyone agrees with their messages, then Facebook might be doing more damage than it realizes.
It’s not exactly surprising that a questionably offensive publication like Viz would be able to find such strong support on social media platforms. 89% of young adults in their 20s are active on at least one social media site and these individuals make up the majority of online followers for risque publications like Viz.
And with 50,000 Facebook followers, most of whom do not see Viz‘s content as “hate speech,” the publication seems to have the upper hand.
Ian Westwood, group managing director at Dennis Publishing, the parent company of Viz, released a statement on the matter:
“The question is what is, and isn’t acceptable to Facebook. We have had that Facebook page for five years. We have had correspondence with them before about stuff they haven’t liked and we’ve taken it down. This time they have just blocked the page and won’t tell us what we’ve violated. We can appeal, but we don’t know what we would be appealing about, we put up a significant number of posts from the print brand to social media each day.”
Regardless of Facebook’s initial intentions, it’s hard to argue with Westwood’s logic. In this situation, Viz became a champion of free speech while Facebook turned itself into a would-be omnipotent corporation.