Originally intended to put an end to trolls, Facebook's Report Abuse button is being used by pro-government forces to shut down the Facebook pages and profiles of those who criticize it. The result is to effectively silence opposing views using the very tools designed to stop abuse on the social media platform.
Facebook says the "report abuse" button is just one of many tools the company looks at when removing content. "Convincing lots of people to report something won’t cause the information to be taken down or hidden unless there’s something else about it that violates our policies," the rep told us. But it's unclear which policy Trang and the other journalists might have violated, particularly since most of the sites were later reinstated. Facebook declined to comment on particular cases in Vietnam.
But after dozens of cases, the pattern is clear enough. If you swarm a page or a person with enough abuse reports, you can kick them off Facebook. Pro-government forces in Vietnam have learned how to do it, and they’re using it to devastating effect.
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