Facebook is being accused of censorship of some of its users’ most widely used memes after censoring one of its most popular political memes.
In a letter published on the social network’s website on Tuesday, the UK-based Open Rights Group (ORG) claimed Facebook had “deleted more than a million accounts” from its platform, including one that contained an image of a man in a hijab and the slogan “Not me, not my country”.
The post, entitled “Not Me, Not My Country”, was among the more than 200,000 that the organisation had published since it began monitoring the social media network in October 2015.
“We were very disappointed to learn that Facebook had deactivated more than 100,000 accounts, including many accounts we had flagged as being ‘offensive’,” the letter said.
“The fact that the accounts have been deleted shows Facebook has taken a firm stance against content that ‘offends’ its users.”
The group said it had “no reason to believe” the deletions were “a mistake” and that “there are other ways Facebook could have removed these accounts”.
“It would be surprising if Facebook were unaware of these deletions, given that the company has a long history of deleting posts that have been flagged as inappropriate, such as a Facebook video featuring an image showing a child’s head with a gun,” the letter continued.
“It is likely that this is a deliberate strategy to ensure that content that is ‘offensive’, ‘hate speech’, ‘inappropriate’ or ‘offensive to some’ cannot be published on Facebook.”
Facebook said in a statement on Tuesday that the majority of accounts deleted were from the UK.
The company said the majority were removed after being flagged as offensive.
“As a result, it has not been possible to assess the overall impact of these actions, as we can only say that we have removed approximately 10,000 of the accounts,” the statement said.
“However, we recognise that this has created an inconvenience for some users and we are working hard to resolve this as quickly as possible.”
The ORG said Facebook had removed posts that “offended” users, but did not provide details about why.
The letter came as Facebook announced it was removing content from its network that it deemed “inappropriate” and “incites hatred” for its users.
A spokesperson for the social networking giant said the company was removing posts that it considered “inclusive” of the community and did not include posts that were deemed “offend[ing] the community”.
“We are also removing content that promotes violence, discrimination, hatred or acts of terrorism,” the spokesperson said.
The UK government said it was “deeply concerned” by the deletations, and said it would take legal action against Facebook.
“If Facebook has not removed content it believes to be offensive, we will seek to hold them to account,” a spokesperson for Prime Minister David Cameron said.