Three Monkeys Online

A Curious, Alternative Magazine

Facebook in the firing line

Matteo Salvini, the outspoken Lega Nord MP and activist (is there any other sort of Lega Nord MP?), has thundered indignantly about censorship to the national press. The reason? His facebook account has been suspended, without explanation.

Salvini has vowed to take up the case with the minister for telecommunications, claiming that he’s received notice of hundreds of similar cases. Salvini’s ire no doubt fired by the fact that now, during increasingly rare long political debates (the current government prefers, on the whole, to pass decrees), he can no longer find distraction fiddling with his facebook profile while those bores on the left insist on having their say.

It all seems rather peculiar, coming from a ‘law and order’ fan like Salvini. After all, the clear (and popular) message of the Lega has always been that if you don’t like the rules, you can always leave. Salvini, for example, resonding to widespread criticism of the heavy-handed measures taken by the Milan local authorities on gypsy camps (similar moves on a national scale included the notorious fingerprinting of children in the camps), said “If someone is afraid of the controls on the Roma camps, he/she can move to another city, given that finally Milan has started to show signs of re-establishing legality”[2]. Like it or lump it, as they say. Where’s the difference with Facebook? No money is paid to open an account, and you accept the terms and conditions – which includes their right to terminate your account without notice, and for no reason[3].

Obviously the fact that Salvini is a controversial mp (who remarked once that it was easier to “get rid of mice than gypsies, because they’re smaller”[4]) will lead to some pointless questions in the media regarding the conduct of Facebook.

Less high-profile, but more important, have been the actions of A.N.P.I – the partisan’s association, which has launched a ‘let’s clean up facebook’. The group started when some members of the association stumbled upon three different groups on Facebook “Let’s burn them all” (15 members), “Let’s make gypsies useful: transform them into green oil”(279 members), and “Let’s give the gypsies a job: gas-chamber inspectors” (649 members). Subsequently it was taken up by various members of the EU parliament, including German MEP Martin Schultz. The groups were closed down by Facebook.

I think Salvini’s time would be more profitably spent with the Minister for Telecomunications were he to bring the Minister’s attention to the various racist/neo-fascist groups proliferating in the Italian Facebook network, and ask for action.

[2]”Se qualcuno ha paura dei controlli nei campi rom si trasferisca pure in un’altra città, visto che finalmente Milano ha ricominciato a dar segni di ripristino della legalità”
[3] From the Facebook terms and conditions: “The Company may terminate your membership, delete your profile and any content or information that you have posted on the Site or through any Platform Application and/or prohibit you from using or accessing the Service or the Site or any Platform Application (or any portion, aspect or feature of the Service or the Site or any Platform Application) for any reason, or no reason, at any time in its sole discretion, with or without notice”
[4] “Anche se i topi sono più facili da debellare degli zingari. Perché sono più piccoli…” – via the blog of Gad Lerner