News

June 23, 2016

RSF deplores suspension of French journalist’s Facebook account

Facebook's message to David Thomson published on Twitter /Screen capture

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) is appalled to learn that the Facebook account of David Thomson, a Radio France Internationale journalist who specializes in covering Jihad, was blocked for 48 hours on the grounds that an Islamic State flag could be seen in a photo posted in 2013.


Facebook’s moderators have yet again acted arbitrarily. Displaying Islamic State’s flag is in theory banned on this social network but Thomson is clearly identified on his Facebook account as a journalist whose speciality is covering terrorist networks.


“I was initially the victim of a 24-hour posting ban on 20 June,” Thomson said. “The next day it was a different photo that prompted another retaliatory measure. This time I was told I was banned from posting and using Facebook for three days. In 2014, my account was completely deactivated without any warning and without my knowing why.”


Facebook refused to give Thomson a valid explanation for the bans but restored access to his account after he spoke to them by phone. His case is not isolated. Several researchers and journalists working on such issues have had their Facebook accounts blocked arbitrarily in recent months.


RSF is concerned about the dangers of this kind of censorship by moderators. “This shows that Facebook’s moderator system does not work and that censorship is being applied blindly,” said Pauline Adès-Mével, who is responsible for New Media at RSF.