MIAMI, Florida (October 14, 2015)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today expressed concern at the conduct of Facebook which temporarily deactivated the digital page of the Peruvian newspaper La República over complaints of bullying, presumably made by supporters of a presidential candidate.
On the morning of October 12 Facebook notified La República in an automatic message that it had deactivated its digital page account, which has some 718,000 followers, for not having complied with the Terms and Standards concerning publication of content on the social media. It said that this concerned complaints of abusive behavior towards individuals, which it described as bullying. La República page was reactivated that night.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, declared, “The Facebook action against La República cannot go unnoticed, due to the unclear, undefined and almost unknown criteria of the content aggregator.”
Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, added, “This lack of transparency concerning the procedures with regard to content gave rise to confusion and could end up, as in this case, restricting information that is relevant for the readers.”
La República digital account was held inactive for 16 hours on Facebook following complaints by users of the network over an article the newspaper published on October 11 in which it revealed that family members of Keiko Fujimori, a Fuerza Popular party presidential candidate, continue being named in corruption proceedings.
La República responded that the content alluded to was the product of a journalistic investigation and “does not represent bullying.” The article, headlined “What Keiko is hiding: Rosa, Juana and Pedro Fujimori are indeed fugitives from justice,” it referred to “fugitive family members of the candidate,” the newspaper explained.
La República, which accused Facebook of engaging in an act of “censorship”, concluded that the Facebook reports of “bullying and intimidation” on the part of the newspaper had come from “followers, sympathizers or collaborators” of Fujimori, given that a day earlier – the same day as the publication of the article – there had been received at the newspaper “an unusual number of requests to withdraw the report.”
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.