Konfederacja (the Confederation) is a right-wing Polish political movement that, until recently, had the largest Facebook fanpage in terms of audience among Polish parties with over 671,000 followers. However, on the 5th of January, the page was suddenly shut down – officially for “breach of the information rules relating to Covid-19“.
The Secretary of State at the Chancellery of the Polish Prime Minister, Janusz Cieszyński announced that the Polish government will officially protest this matter to Meta (the new name of the company operating the Facebook social network).
Meta’s press office confirmed that it had removed Konfederacja’s page due to “repeated violations of Facebook’s community standards regarding COVID-19 disinformation and hate speech.”
“It is simply a matter of freedom of expression and universal values for which we must all fight, regardless of our specific views. […] Political parties compete with each other for the favour of citizens, and that is fine. This is democracy. […] A channel of communication should not be suppressed by an arbitrary decision taken by an anonymous person, against whom there is no possibility of recourse to the courts,” Janusz Cieszyński declared.
The Konfederacja movement officially protested in a statement: “This action by Facebook goes against democratic rules […] We are therefore announcing the filing of a civil lawsuit against Facebook, as well as the urgent introduction of a bill to protect participants in democratic political debate from censorship. We are awaiting the restoration of the Confederation’s profile and an explanation of the elements which would violate ‘Community standards’”- the statement reads.
The Prime Minister’s Chancellery issued a press release following the incident:
“The removal of an entire profile on the basis of scientifically incompatible information relating to the pandemic is an example of preventive censorship and – in the absence of symmetrical action against other such content – results in the suspicion that the real reasons for the decision of the portal administration could have been other than those set out in the statement. […] We are counting on a rapid reaction from Meta and the restoration of the functionality […] of Konfederacja’s account” – we read in the statement.
Polish Prime Minister himself commented on the matter by stating the following:
“I have often […] criticised the MPs from Konfederacja. They criticised me as well. But to criticise does not mean to prevent someone from speaking. That’s why I am taking their side today. I am not in favour of cutting Konfederacja off […] Digital censorship is a powerful threat to democracy today. Owners of social platforms need to understand that freedom to debate means that there are points of view with which we do not agree.“
In response to the ban, one of Konfederacja’s leaders, Krzysztof Bosak, condemned the fact that an “American corporation wants to suppress freedom of debate and interfere with democracy and the electoral process in Poland”.
Author: Sébastien Meuwissen
Cover photo: British PolesPolitics