Filmmaker Accuses Facebook Of Censorship

    February 16, 2009
    WebProNews Staff

Independent filmmaker Luis Moro and his wife, producer and actress Bobbi Miller-Moro say Facebook deleted Luis’s Facebook account for political reasons. Facebook says the allegations are “absurd.”

Moro is a Cuban American known for producing indie films like “Love and Suicide,” “Anne B. Real,” and the forthcoming “Lean Like a Cholo,” and is an avid supporter of recently introduced legislation allowing Americans to travel to Cuba again. It is because of Moro’s support of this cause and his Facebook group “End the US Trade Embargo on Cuba,” his wife says, that led to Facebook censoring Moro’s account.

Bobbi Miller-Moro Bobbi told WebProNews her husband’s account was deleted Monday evening after Luis sent out word about the proposed Cuban travel bill. She says the account was deleted without notice or explanation.

“All he was doing was posting about ‘The Freedom to Travel to Cuba Act’ in Cuba-related groups, and to friends with the same interest,” she says. “ A very interesting fact,” she continued. “When I posted on my status ‘My husband’s account was deleted by Facebook’ it was erased 3 times from the main wall! I could not believe it.”

Bobbi says shortly after she also received a warning email stating Facebook’s systems indicated she’d been “misusing certain features.”

A press release the Moros issued online hints at Luis receiving repeated warnings. The sentence reads, “If he ever met his quota in adding friends in a day, Facebook would send a warning to stop, and he would.”

Barry Schnitt, speaking on behalf Facebook, noted that sentence in his response. “In the press release the user acknowledges receiving warnings from our automated system,” said Schnitt.

“That system is designed to keep spammers and and potential harassers from abusing Facebook.  It is triggered by a user sending too many messages or friending too many people who ignore their requests.  In this case, the user ignored at least one of the warnings when he was spamming people with messages and friend requests to promote his cause and was automatically disabled.  The suggestion that our automated system has been programmed with a certain political agenda is absurd.”

As for Bobbi’s warning? “If [Luis’s] wife was exhibiting the same behavior, I’m sure she was served a warning from our automated system.  Again, the assertion that any of this is politically motivated is ridiculous.”

Luis Moro Luis’s account has since been restored, and an email apology was sent saying the deletion was due to Facebook’s automated systems. Bobbi still isn’t so sure her husband wasn’t targeted though. She cited Facebook’s alleged history of censorship involving words and phrases like “anti-war,” “Gaza,” and “Palestine,” as well as the much publicized row with breastfeeding mothers.

“Innocent people have had their accounts deleted, they call it ‘Black Death’ or something like it to what it is like for them, that is what happened to us. No notice, or warning.” She also cited past problems with pro-embargo editors of Wikipedia.

When asked what stake Facebook would have in the Cuba embargo issue, Bobbi denied it was direct political action from Facebook itself, but was in response to bogus abuse/harassment complaints.

“I do believe all it takes is one pro-embargo person to say Luis was harassing and that’s it. So no, I don’t think Facebook is totally at fault here. But they have to have a better system than auto deletion of an account. Especially one that is being active in a social network. I do believe they take it upon themselves to decide what is okay and what is not okay by their own terms, which they are entitled to.”

But, she says, one her friends was scared to post anything in support for fear of losing her Facebook account. “That’s the problem. We should not live in fear of losing our voices.”

As to criticism this could be a kind of publicity stunt to promote the cause or their films, Bobbi said, “We are way past that,” she said, intimating that earlier in their career that might have been considered. “I wish I was smart enough to think of this one—i.e. get my account cancelled and then make a big deal about it. Funny.”

She didn’t hesitate drop their next film title, though, a joint production with Sir Ben Kingsley entitled “Whispers Like Thunder,” a true Native American story.