FACEBOOK – NO PLACE FOR GYPSY/ROMA/TRAVELLER HATE PAGES

FACEBOOK – NO PLACE FOR GYPSY/ROMA/TRAVELLER HATE PAGES

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - which arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are entitled – states that:

“All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in the Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”

Adopted under the auspices of the Council of Europe, the European Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities sets forth a number of principles according to which States are to develop specific policies to protect the rights of minorities.  These include:

Promote the conditions necessary for minorities to maintain and develop their culture and identity, (Article 5)

and

Protect the rights to freedom of assembly, association, expression, thought, conscience, and religion. (Articles 7, 8, and 9)

Sadly, these remain empty words for many in the Gypsy/Roma/Traveller community as discrimination and prejudice (which Sir Trevor Philips, chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, describes as “the last ‘acceptable’ form of racism in the UK”.) is experienced here in the UK and elsewhere in Europe, on a daily basis.

A worrying trend is the use of social networking sites such as Facebook to promote hatred towards the Gypsy/Roma/Traveller communities and to encourage others to take ‘vigilante’ style action to cleanse Gypsy/Roma/Travellers from an area. These pages use offensive terminology such as: ‘pikey’ or ‘gypo scum’; a recently uploaded (now deleted) page contained comments calling for encampments to be petrol bombed.  Whilst we accept that one of the key under pinning principles of social networking sites, and indeed the internet itself, it to enable a free flow of information, we do not accept that information that openly incites racial hatred and/or violence falls within these core principles.  Indeed, Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities, sub section Safety, would appear to agree with us:

You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence,

You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.

Given the above statement, it is difficult to understand why Facebook is not exercising its responsibility to protect those users who are abused and offended by such pages or why, despite repeated reports by users, there is such a delay in these pages being removed.   As a company recently valued at $50 billion, Facebook could easily absorb the cost of installing software that would enable ‘instant’ deletion of pages which are clearly designed to incite racial hatred or at the very least a system which enables people to disable offensive and criminal content immediately which could then be reviewed by Facebook moderators at a later date.

This petition is designed to remind Facebook that they have a duty to uphold every individual’s right to be protected from discrimination and physical harm and to urge Facebook to take all steps necessary to demonstrate that their company is not a ‘third party promoter’ of bigotry and prejudice.

Please sign this petition – say no to hate pages on Facebook

 

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