Target: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
Goal: Stop censoring criticism aimed at public figures who promote Islamophobia.
A petition criticising the 2015 Miss Puerto Rico winner for her blatantly Islamophobic statements was recently removed from ForceChange’s Facebook page by the Facebook organization. A message sent by Facebook to the ForceChange page’s administrators stated that a post containing a link to the petition had been removed because it supposedly violated Facebook’s Community Standards. Our online community must come together to show Facebook that censoring criticism of Islamophobia is not alright.
The petition that Facebook chose to remove, called “Stand Up for Peaceful Muslims Everywhere,” urges Miss Puerto Rico winner Destiny Valdez to offer a real apology for a Twitter rant in which she claimed that “Muslims use our constitution to terrorize USA,” and made other statements implying that all Muslims are terrorists. After an online outcry, Valdez was suspended by the Miss Puerto Rico contest and Valdez released a statement in which she said that “I apologize to the people I have offended with my words.”
As stated in our original ForceChange petition about this story, Valdez’s apology seems halfhearted at best, and fails to acknowledge the degree to which her earlier statements feed into a very dangerous Islamophobia. Public figures who ignorantly and irresponsibly equate Islam with terrorism have created an environment of fear that targets peaceful individuals for simply practicing their chosen religion. It is unacceptable that Facebook would remove posts which seek to criticize this kind of ignorant bigotry.
Contrary to violating Facebook’s community standards, the post and petition link that Facebook removed are fully consistent with Facebook’s own rules, which state that Facebook permits “open and critical discussion of people who are featured in the news or have a large public audience based on their profession or chosen activities.” The winner of a Miss America-type pageant clearly fits this definition of a public figure who can and should be held accountable for her statements.
Please sign the petition below and urge Facebook to stop censoring organizations like ForceChange that speak out against Islamophobia.
Dear Mr. Zuckerberg,
A post on the ForceChange.com Facebook page, criticizing Miss Puerto Rico for her Islamophobic Twitter rant, was recently removed by Facebook. We believe this removal was inconsistent with Facebook’s own Community Standards, and we call on you to make sure that Facebook does not censor posts which denounce Islamophobic bigotry. The censored post featured a link to this online petition from the ForceChange.com web site: https://forcechange.com/150448/stand-up-for-peaceful-muslims-everywhere/.
Facebook’s Community Standards state that “We permit open and critical discussion of people who are featured in the news or have a large public audience based on their profession or chosen activities.” A winner of the Miss Puerto Rico contest clearly fits this definition of a public figure, so ForceChange’s post about this issue should not have been removed. The fact that Facebook took the post down anyway seems to suggest that Facebook is willing to go along with Islamophobia.
Please release a public statement clarifying that Facebook will not censor ForceChange or any other organization from publishing anti-Islamophobia posts in the future.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Piotr VaGla Waglowski