Facebook group ignites protest
Social-networking site has been dealing with a growing controversy surrounding one of its groups.
When creating a broad forum or social-networking site like Facebook, deciding what, if any, content should be prohibited is always a difficult decision. Pornography and unauthorized copyrighted material are usually forbidden, but any other restrictions will often spark calls of censorship and accusations that the forum infringes on the freedom of speech guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. In reality, the constitution doesn't dictate what must be allowed in these circumstances, just as you are permitted to make certain subjects off-limits in your own home. Despite the fact that there is no constitutional issue, there is a perception of one, and the concerns about censorship are very real and do have merit.
Lately, Facebook has been dealing with a growing controversy surrounding one of its groups. F**k Islam has more than 800 members, has generated almost 20,000 wall posts, and sparked a number of similar groups in addition to a host of groups built around their opposition to the group's existence. The debate has recently spilled into The New York Times. According to the Times:
I'm not saying that Facebook should remove the group; I'm merely pointing out what standards the company has set for controversial material. Others have threatened that if Facebook does not remove the group, then they will remove themselves from Facebook. One group formed around this agenda has managed to attract more than 60,000 users. It's unclear whether these people will actually follow through on their promise. Even if they are committed, I don't think they've established a date for the mass exodus should their demands not be met.
If Facebook decides to remove F**k Islam, then many will think the company succumbed to the protesters' demands, and this will lead to others feeling that they can rally to kick other groups off the site. Facebook has the authority to decide what is appropriate for its site, but the last thing Facebook should do is surrender to the demands of loud groups trying to dictate what should and should not belong on Facebook.