Will Facebook kill anti-Aboriginal pages? No

After protests in Australia, a Facebook page that portrays Aboriginals as drunks and welfare cheats has reportedly been banned. In fact, it has not.

Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Facebook is normally desperate to embrace its openness toward all opinions, vile or otherwise.

It has consistently tolerated many Holocaust denial pages , for example. ( Breast-feeding pictures , not so much.)

So it is slightly surprising that the company was said to have bowed to public concern and removed a page featuring Aboriginal memes that insulted the indigenous people of Australia.

According to the Herald Sun, Facebook took down the page, which also depicted Aboriginals as drunks and welfare cheats.

And yet, when I contacted Facebook, I was told by a spokesman: "While obviously distasteful and not any views that Facebook would support, the content does not violate our terms."

This is the very same argument that the company uses with respect to Holocaust denial pages, but not breast-feeding pages.

A sample of the comments on the "Abo Memes" page. Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

The company offered me a longer statement about the specific case in Australia, which suggests that the page has been taken down in Australia, but is visible elsewhere.

We recognize the public concern that controversial meme Pages that Australians have created on Facebook have caused. Facebook is a service devoted to helping people share and making the world more open and connected. We believe that sharing information, and the openness that results, invites conversation, debate and greater understanding. At the same time, we recognize that some content that is shared may be controversial, offensive, or even illegal in some countries. While we do not remove this type of content from the site entirely unless it violates our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, out of respect for local laws, we may restrict access to content that violates local laws. We note that the Australian Communications and Media Authority are undertaking an investigation of these Pages and we are engaged in a constructive dialogue with the Australian Race Discrimination Commissioner.

I have tried to find the page here in the U.S., but was unable to locate it.

I did, however, find complaints that while the original content was removed, a new page -- with the same content -- called Abo Memes is active. At the time of writing, it most certainly is.

It even enjoys this post from its creators: "1,000 likes. Any publicity is good publicity."

I have contacted Facebook again to ask what the status of the "Aboriginal Memes" page is in Australia and was told: "Yes. The page is still accessible." So all we have is content being moved around.

Australia's Federal Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has already declared that the content should be removed on the grounds that it may contravene Australia's anti-discrimination laws.

However, it doesn't appear that this is going to prove very easy at all.

 

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