Release: Facebook purge of political content is a fundamental assault against democracy

(Ottawa — October 13, 2018) The Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA) is concerned that Facebook has actuated a massive purge of accounts that feature independent journalism and political content, for the reasons given of alleged spamming, profit seeking, misrepresentation of identity, “misleading users” and to “keep our community safe and respectful”.

The Facebook accounts of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Globe & Mail were untouched, which suggests that Facebook’s motives are not as it claims. The larger media sites are known to be biased, to have political and establishment ties and to mislead by omission and spin. One need only consult the landmark research of Herman and Chomsky.

The Facebook purge of some “800 pages and accounts” is the largest overt purge of political content since the advent of the social media giants, and it constitutes deplatforming of ordinary citizens on an unprecedented scale.

For example, the renowned Canadian site “Press for Truth” was affected, mere days after it published an unparalleled in-depth interview with Maxime Bernier.

The purged accounts have tens and hundreds of thousands of followers, and are known to have a significant influence in domestic politics.

Both Left and Right accounts were affected, apparently barring a simple partisan motive. Likewise, OCLA does not believe that the purge is motivated by a corporate civic duty for public safety or by a desire to optimize the quest for truth. Rather, OCLA believes that the purged sites represent a “threat of democracy” rather than a “threat to democracy”, and that the purge is a test for eliminating competitors of the dominant establishment-controlled media.

OCLA notes that Facebook and the social media giants have been given access to the public internet both through the infrastructure largely paid for by public funds and through the state-run legal structure of corporate law that allows their profitable operation in the public sphere.

As such, these corporations must be bound by the principles that underlie the constitutions and charters of our free and democratic societies. Corporate censorship against ordinary users cannot be a design characteristic. There must be a high threshold preventing censorship, with the onus to prove the necessity for any censorship lying squarely with the entity that seeks to censor.

There is an urgent systemic need for limitations so that the social media giants cannot at their discretion censor individual expression. What the social media giants are constantly pressured by powerful interests to achieve amounts to using monopolistic market and establishment forces to deprive the proverbial pamphleteers of paper, ink and silkscreens, and access to public venues and doorways. It amounts to blacklisting books from libraries, bookstores and coffee shops. It must be stopped. This is a shameful episode of Western civilization.

About the Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA)

The OCLA vigorously advocates for authentic and unqualified freedom of expression of individuals, on all topics and in every form, in accordance with the right to free expression enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The OCLA also advocates for unimpeded civil liberties and civil rights of all persons, in dealings with public and private institutions and corporations.

The OCLA is not affiliated with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) or the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA). All three associations are separate and distinct.


Joseph Hickey
Executive Director
Ontario Civil Liberties Association (OCLA)
613-252-6148 (c)

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