Probated From Facebook For Screencapping Hate Speech

30.10.2012
Words by Paul Fontaine
A prominent Icelandic feminist has been banned from Facebook for 30 days for taking a screencap of a public status from a man who had issued a death threat against her.

The status in question was posted by Stefán Heiðar Erlingsson, and was set to be visible by the general public. In the status, he wrote, "If I 'accidentally' ran over Hildur, she is probably the only person on earth that I would back up over, and leave the car on top of her with the hand brake on!!!;) Put this in your 'men who hate Hildur' folder, Hildur Lilliendahl."

The "folder" is a reference to Hildur's "Men Who Hate Women" collection of Facebook status screenshots. These statuses are made by men expressing misogynist points of view on public forums.

Hildur, accepting Stefán's invitation, took a screenshot of the above status and posted it on her account. Shortly thereafter, Facebook gave her a 30-day ban. The reason for the ban is that Facebook's terms of service forbids its users from taking screenshots of and then re-posting Facebook statuses without express permission of the author. As Stefán did give his permission, the probation Hildur received may have been due to a language problem at Facebook.

Many have questioned the misguided nature of the rule, which effectively allows for Stefán to post what could be considered a death threat, but does not allow anyone else to take a screenshot of it and re-post it.

As a result, a petition has been started by blogger Eva Hauksdóttir, calling for Facebook to change its TOS.

"This policy opens a gateway for political harassment on behalf of those who want to silence their opponents and must be reconsidered," a statement on the petition reads in part. "Punishing a victim of political persecution is hardly the policy of Facebook. Blocking accounts on such a vague basis violates freedom of speech and opens a gateway for political harassment on behalf of those who want to silence their opponents."

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