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With no prior notice and no notification, Facebook made the Extinction Rebellion Belgium page invisible on the network allegedly because it was not in line with Facebook community standards. Allegedly, the reason for taking the page down was an event created on 23 February 2020 for the march for women's rights that took place on 08 March 2020 in Brussels. The event was apparently flagged as “hate speech”. A spokesperson for Extinction Rebellion Belgium explains: “We do not know why this event was reported as hate speech; we haven’t been told what content was considered offensive.”

XR Belgium’s communication team tried to contact Facebook support to get a human being (not an algorithm) to look at the page and unblock the situation. However, Facebook replied that few assessors were available, because of the Covid19 pandemic, and that they had to prioritise urgent cases.

This is not the first time that pages or admins of Extinction Rebellion are blocked by the social network. For example, in February 2019, the personal accounts of all administrators of the XR France Facebook page were suspended and remained deactivated for three days. Facebook lacks transparency as to the reasons for these bans. Apparently the algorithm that identifies inappropriate content - according to the platform’s standards - is at fault. However, a spokesperson from Extinction Rebellion declares: “we always comply with these standards and we have never published and will never publish content that incites hate, sexism, or racism, nor will we ever knowingly spread false information. These principles are important to us. We do not understand why our page was taken down. Based on the available information, this looks like nothing but censorship.”

As we are writing this press release (07/09/2020), the Facebook page of Extinction Rebellion Belgium is now deleted, completely inaccessible to the admins, the editors and the 17 000+ people that were following it.

Extinction Rebellion Belgium calls on Facebook to reactivate the page, to explain why it was suspended, and to refrain from censoring peaceful grassroots movements.

It should be noted that today, September 7th, a hearing is held at the Brussels first instance court; members of Extinction Rebellion Belgium are taking legal action against Febiac, the organiser of the Brussels Motor Show, where an XR action was organised in January 2020. The activists blame Febiac for putting in place abusive measures to stop them from carrying out a peaceful and legitimate protest action.

UPDATE: Extinction Rebellion Belgium's Facebook page was republished
sunday evening around 8.30pm, with no explanation from Facebook as to why it
was suspended.

DE - Pressemitteilung :

For more information: Xavier (FR/NL/EN) +31626359683, Naila (FR/EN) +32 492 94 32 38

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