Facebook Blocks Syrian Pages Praising Sarout

Syrian opposition pages on Facebook have been suspended due to content they published, which mourned the dead of opposition member Abdelbasset al-Sarout reports Al-Modon.

The founder and editor of the Syrian website Zaman al-Wasl, Fathi Bayoud, said that Facebook has blocked the outlet’s Zaman al-Wasl TV page because it had published a documentary about the deceased opposition member Abdelbasset al-Sarout.

This comes a day after dozens of Syrians announced that their posts, in which they mourned Sarout, had disappeared from Facebook, with claims that they had violated the publishing rules and “community standards” on the social media platform. Others said that the matter was related to pro-regime accounts reporting opposition accounts to Facebook. Facebook’s administration also removed the Le Forum de Syriens en France page, which has more than 55,000 members, after, “it allowed many posts in sympathy with the story and praise of Abdelbasset al-Sarout.”

Among those affected by the campaign was the writer and former prisoner Yassin al-Hajj Saleh, more than one of whose posts mourning and discussing Sarout were erased by the site. This was part of what Saleh described as a, “coordinated arrest campaign of Sarout posts and articles.” He said in a post on his Facebook account: “The electronic Assadists are working to arrest and kill the words if they aren’t able to kill and arrest those who speak them.” He said that the campaign had also affected the Lebanese writer and researcher Ziad Majed, whose words were blocks and his account frozen.

The blocking campaign by Facebook pushed activists to launch an electronic petition under the name, “Ask Facebook to comply with freedom of speech and not erase posts about Abdelbasset al-Sarout.”

The signatories to the petition asked the Facebook administration to adhere to the freedoms guaranteed by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by restoring all the banned posts and reactivating the frozen accounts, and to conclusively stop these types of practices, which remind Syrians of the dictatorship they confronted in their search of freedom and dignity.

The signatories added: “It is shameful that these types of errors occur because of a reliance on machines that do not distinguish between the meanings of freedom and justice, nor respect the feelings of the people calling for them. Therefore we call on Facebook to bear its moral responsibility in accordance with the principles of the page’s foundation and to resolve the problem through their employees who are able to distinguish between that which harms people’s rights and violates the site’s terms of use, and that which expresses the views of people who are seeking the human rights guaranteed by all laws and legislation.”

 

This article was translated and edited by The Syrian Observer. Responsibility for the information and views set out in this article lies entirely with the author.

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