In recent weeks, there have been a number of reports about the Facebook pages of prominent left-wing organisations being taken down from the platform. The most notable among these was the removal of the page for the Socialist Workers Party (SWP), along with a number of their local accounts, which are yet to be restored.
In response to questioning from the Financial Times, the tech giant claimed that this was the result of an “automation error”. But Facebook representatives gave no further explanation.
This paper-thin excuse does not address the fact that these removals occurred almost simultaneously, affecting the personal pages of activists as well as those of the organisations themselves.
Lacking a proper explanation, we are left to only assume that, in reality, this was an act of censorship. Indeed, mere days after pinning the blame on an “automation error”, Mark Zuckerberg made a complete volte face when, in a call with investors, he made clear his ambitions to “permanently de-politicise Facebook”.
Already, Facebook is working towards reducing the amount of political content in users’ news feeds. The CEO added that there are a number of groups who he would like to remove from the platform “even if they don’t violate [Facebook’s] policies”.
No doubt feeling the weight of the ruling class behind him, Zuckerberg has ditched any pretence that the recent slew of bans were an anomaly. This is an open declaration of war against those who stand against the establishment.
This is by no means a bolt from the blue. Only a few months ago, we reported on the intensification of social media purges of left-wing accounts, which also affected our Venezuelan comrades organised in Lucha de Clases.
Nonetheless, purges and censorship have certainly been ramped up in the recent period of political turmoil.
Many have celebrated the censorship of ‘Commander-in-tweet’ Donald Trump by the tech monopolies, following the events on Capitol Hill this month. But as we have already explained, this sets a dangerous precedent that will be (and already is being) used against socialists.
It is naive to think that the bosses of the social media giants would hesitate to turn their tools of suppression onto the left. Only the independent action of the working class can suppress the threat of the far right. Relying on the tech giants will only come back to bite us. This recent slew of bans attests to this fact.
As the global crisis of capitalism deepens – and people are increasingly driven towards revolutionary ideas – the ruling class will stop at nothing to censor and repress those who fight for a real alternative.
Let us remind ourselves that companies like Facebook are multi-billion dollar enterprises. Their billionaire owners, such as Zuckerberg, are some of the richest individuals in the world. And they are tied by a million threads to the rest of the capitalist class, who invest in their stocks.
Until we nationalise the tech monopolies under democratic workers' control, therefore, censorship of the left will continue.
As such, we have decided to take some necessary precautions to avoid any disruption to our social media accounts.
Even prior to Zuckerberg’s pledge to reduce the amount of political content in users’ news feeds, we have noticed a steady decline in the ‘reach’ of our Facebook posts, despite our number of followers increasing. This means that, on average, only 5% of our followers see our posts.
Not only does this prevent our ideas from reaching a wider audience, but it also means that you could be missing out on our articles, videos, and updates. We therefore encourage our supporters to add our page to their ‘favourites’ list and turn on post notifications.
Since Facebook is one of the main ways that people find our articles and visit our website, we also urge all of our readers (if you haven't already) to subscribe to our paper. A digital subscription to our fortnightly paper is only £2 per month, providing you with all our news and analysis straight to your inbox.
You can also subscribe to our free weekly newsletter, using the signup at the bottom of each page on the site. This will keep you updated on all of our articles, videos, and campaigns – especially important should our social media pages get taken down.
Ultimately, until the big social media companies are nationalised and placed under democratic workers’ control, the threat of censorship will always hang over the heads of left-wing and – above all – revolutionary groups.
We can’t be cowed by the threats of Zuckerberg and the tech elites, however. With your support, we can ensure that Marxist ideas reach as wide an audience as possible.
If we are driven from social media, we will take our message to the streets; we will circulate our newspapers in workplaces, on campuses, and in the labour movement; and we will continue to build the forces of Marxism, in Britain and internationally.
To paraphrase the great radical writer Victor Hugo: You can’t censor an idea whose time has come!
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- Nationalise the tech giants under democratic workers’ control!
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