With nothing but a vague “violation of community standards” note and offering no ability to appeal the decision, Facebook has once again blocked a piece of critical journalism—this time a short documentary video depicting the brutal legacy of Christopher Columbus—from its global online platform.
The short video—produced by Double Down Newsand titled “The true legacy of Christopher Columbus: ‘Western Civilisation’“—features author and journalist George Monbiot recounting the infamous European explorer’s history of subjugation and brutalization of the Indigenous people he encountered when he arrived in the so-called “New World” in the late 15th Century.
After being up for more than a week, and raking up more than 900,000 views, DNN co-founder Yannis Mendez says the video, “a serious piece of historical journalism,” was deleted by Facebook on Tuesday without warning, a specific reason, or any avenue of recourse.
In the piece, Mendez explains, Monbiot “recounts the horrors of history in vivid detail. Therefore, at times, we understand the film may have been uncomfortable for some to watch. A number of visuals used, taken from the film 1492 and historical documentary footage, were graphic in nature. Facebook could have opted to put a warning screen on the video, which we would of had no problem with.”
As of this writing, the video remains deleted from Facebook—it was originally posted at this link—and its producers have been given no further explanation for why it was taken down. The video remains available on YouTube.
Watch [warning, some may find the footage graphic or troubling]:
In response to its deletion by Facebook, DDN, Monbiot and others appealed for people to speak out against Facebook’s censorship and demanded the video be restored:
The film was a serious piece of historical journalism, gaining 1m views
We were given no right of appeal, or exact reason for censorship
Why is Facebook censoring history? pic.twitter.com/JnCSB2NOkq
— Double Down News (@DoubleDownNews) October 16, 2018
Mendez told Common Dreams that while he fully understands the need for Facebook to monitor its platform for inappropriate content and fake news, “the lack of transparency and recourse to appeal are deeply unsettling.”
It’s certainly not the first time Facebook has blocked political sites or censored historical content it perceived as offensive or graphic. Last week, as Common Dreamsreported, a number of sites who claim they operate legitimately and cater to social justice and anti-war audiences say they were swept up in a massive purge that Facebook said was only designed at bad actors.
As Monbiot himself noted:
I thought Facebook's banning of our video about the true nature of colonial history was a one-off. But it seems to be part of an apparent purge of dissenting posts: https://t.co/fcnS2dytrg
— GeorgeMonbiot (@GeorgeMonbiot) October 17, 2018
“Monbiot’s piece of video journalism was about the airbrushing of history,” noted Mendez. “Therefore, there is a great irony in the fact it has now been airbrushed from their platform.”