Did Facebook violate UN covenant on civil, political rights?

Facebook-connectIn February 2016, the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain posted a petition in which it said that some nineteen separate Facebook groups and pages were either torn down or currently under attack by Muslim fundamentalists.

The group said in its petition that it consists of former Muslims and free-thinkers who left Islam after researching it further, but cannot publicize their decision as they still live in the Middle East and would be subjected to beheading by religious extremists or harsh treatment under religious laws in their home country.

The only outlet they have for interaction is social media sites like Facebook.

But, they added, Muslim fundamentalists and extremists didn’t leave them alone, and created groups with thousands of followers who regularly reported their accounts and groups in an effort to close them.

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Facebook, they said, believed the false reports and closed down a number of the pages without any warning.  Ten of their largest groups were shut down, they said in an appeal to Westerners who still value freedom of expression.

The group even went so far as to suggest that Facebook may be in violation of an international agreement, specifically, the UN’s International Covenant on Civil Rights and Political Rights, the Preamble of which says that, “the ideal of free human beings enjoying civil and political freedom and freedom from fear and want can only be achieved if conditions are created whereby everyone may enjoy his civil and political rights, as well as his economic, social and cultural rights…”

Article one of that document states:

“All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.”

Article 18 further says that, “Everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion. This right shall include freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice, and freedom, either individually or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in worship, observance, practice and teaching.”

Nowhere does the document say that those rights are subject to enforcement under Facebook’s “community standards.”

The very next article adds: “Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.”

“Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice,” which obviously would include the Internet and sites like Facebook.

That document was first adopted by the General Assembly in 1966, and went into force in 1976, many years before Facebook was created.  But apparently, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t get the memo.

Granted, the covenant is intended for states that are members of the United Nations.  While Facebook is neither a member of the UN, nor is it a signatory to the covenant, it frequently acts like a government unto itself, especially where its “community standards” are concerned, and besides, these days, it’s far more likely the blue helmets would be doing Mark Zuckerberg’s bidding.

As we’ve reported time and again, Facebook often punishes those with a Judaeo-Christian or conservative point of view, while appearing to grant near carte blanche to others.  It also targets those who oppose militant Islam, while at the same time appearing to turn a blind eye to the activities of militant Islamists.

This incident is just one of many that Adina Kutnicki, an investigative journalist based in Israel, and I will examine in an upcoming book about the social media giant tentatively scheduled to be published sometime this fall.

You may think you know Facebook, but trust me — you don’t know the half of it.


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Joe Newby

A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Joe ran for a city council position in Riverside, Calif., in 1991 and managed successful campaigns for the Idaho state legislature. Co-author of "Banned: How Facebook enables militant Islamic jihad," Joe wrote for Examiner.com from 2010 until it closed in 2016 and his work has been published at Newsbusters, Spokane Faith and Values and other sites. He now runs the Conservative Firing Line.

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