We posted yesterday about protests in Poland against Facebook’s apparent policy of repression against Polish patriots and conservative political groups in Poland.
Now there is pushback against the Zuckerberg jackboots. Even the Polish government is getting into the act.
At this point the question is: Does Facebook’s status as a private corporation exempt it from the responsibility to permit and protect free speech on its site? Or has it become, through its size and ubiquity, the equivalent of a public utility?
The following video from Polish TV shows the politician Marek Jakubiak of the conservative party Kukiz’15 discussing Facebook’s censorship. Many thanks to Ava Lon for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes for the subtitling:
Below is a related article from Gazeta Prawna, also translated by Ava Lon. The translator includes this note:
Polish law prohibits desecration or vandalism of religious objects and places (paintings, sculptures, crosses, churches), which may be perceived as diminishing free speech for some.
The translated article:
Deputy Minister of Justice on blocking nationalists on Facebook: In Poland there is no consensus on censorship
November 2, 2016
“In Poland we don’t accept censorship; we will analyze in legal terms, what we can do about Facebook’s blocking of profiles associated with the national movements,” Deputy Minister of Justice Patryk Jaki announced on Wednesday. “It’s outrageous,” he believes.
Activists from national movements reported on Twitter that in recent days some profiles disappeared from Facebook; among others, the March of Independence, the National Movement, the National Radical Camp and All-Polish Youth. Administrators also blocked profiles of activists. Nationalists, who blame primarily employees of the Polish branch of Facebook for the removal, planned a November 5th protest against the Warsaw seat of the social networking site.
Deputy Minister Patryk Jaki stressed on Wednesday on “Signals day” program on Radio Jedynka that Poland is “the cradle of democracy and freedom.” “We don’t accept censorship,” he said.
Asked whether prosecutors should look into blocking of the patriotic pages and pages with a related content, among others the Independence March, the deputy head of the Ministry of Justice replied: “We will analyze what we can do in legal terms, because actually what happens on Facebook, but also on Twitter, is outrageous.”
Inquired whether the prosecution can do anything against a company that is outside the Polish jurisdiction, he said: “Today we’re wondering if we can do something. The possibilities we have are probably limited, but even the ones that we have, I think we should use them.”
“Facebook pages that offend the Catholic Church are allowed, as are vulgar ones, and others referring to Communist ideology, but Polish patriotic slogans are not allowed? Something here is not right, and it absolutely cannot be accepted,” Jaki said.
According to him, “Evidently patriotic Polish pages are often being harassed. Only one type of [FB] page in the political dispute is being harassed (…), and the others, even the most vulgar ones, act freely. Something is clearly wrong with freedom and democracy here,” said the deputy minister. In his view, blocking patriots “is a question for those people who are responsible for these sites in Poland.”
The digitization minister Anna Streżyńska also expressed her opinion, and wrote on Tuesday on Twitter: “Concerning the FB problem, I act as I see fit and reasonable, within the law, and my competence; in order to solve the problem rather than inflame it.”
The Polish League Against Defamation [non-government civil rights organization] published a statement on its website in which it states that “censorship as used by Facebook” is a violation of, among others, Art. 54 of the Constitution, which says that “everyone shall have the freedom to express opinions and to acquire and disseminate information, and preventive censorship means of social communication and the licensing of the press shall be prohibited.” “Because FB operates on Polish territory is obliged to adhere to the Polish legal order,” emphasized the Polish League Against Defamation.
The organization also announced that it filed two notices of a possible crime by Facebook administrators regarding the violation of article 196 CC, which reads: “Whoever disrespects the religious feelings of others, by desecrating publicly an object of religious worship or a place for the public performance of religious rites, is subject to a fine, imprisonment or imprisonment for up to two years.” “Facebook, despite repeated calls from many people, does not delete profiles insulting St. John Paul II, which violates Art. 196 CC,” they justified.
|00:08||The Polish State needs to reassert the rights of Polish people in Poland|
|00:12||It’s unacceptable that a Western company decides what can be white and red [national colors]|
|00:16||in Poland, and what cannot. Ladies and gentlemen, we are not talking about jokes:|
|00:20||someone is forbidding, in Poland,|
|00:24||pride in being Polish. We don’t accept that. Absolutely not.|
|00:28||There will be a reaction to the actions of Facebook. This is censorship.