The message spread quickly, with posts going up on CNN’s citizen journalism project iReport and Desmond Perkins, who set up the Boycott BP page, alleging that Facebook singled him and members of his family out to silence him on the site via his own website and Twitter account.
Perkins promptly set up a new Facebook page, which grew to just south of 10,000 users in half a day.
About 9 hours after its removal, Facebook reinstated the page, which is used by a vocal group of users to vent their feelings and share information and opinions regarding the oil spill and the way BP is handling (or rather, not handling) the tragic situation.
Following multiple reports on the Web about the mysterious apparent removal of the page and its return, we contacted Facebook to learn what happened exactly. Moments ago, the company provided us with an official statement on the matter, which remains quite vague but at least acknowledges there was no malicious intent involved, let alone a conscious decision by someone at Facebook to shut the page down:
“The admin profile of the Boycott BP Page was disabled by our automated systems therefore removing all the content that had been created by the profile. After a manual review we determined the profile was removed in error and it has now been restored along with the Page.”
Asked what triggered the automated systems to flag said profile in the first place, Facebook declined to go into detail because it fears people knowing about how their systems work will “weaken their effectiveness”.
Either way, Perkins and the 734,000+ who are keen on showing their dislike for BP on Facebook can rest assured they were not intentionally marked for silencing. It was a systems failure – rather ironic of course considering the reason why this page was set up in the first place.