Facebook’s Report Abuse button has become a tool of global oppression

The Verge:

“All the army forces inside and outside the barracks, assemble,” the Facebook post reads. “Read our commands carefully before the raid.” A few lines later. “Don’t comment. Don’t curse. Just report them.”

It’s military talk, but they’re not soldiers. It’s a Facebook raid, conducted on July 12th against an independent Vietnamese news site called the Khmer Krom News. Below the post, dozens of comments weigh in with support: “Damn them, let’s finish them off,” and “I set up dozens of accounts for this =))”

The publication had been too critical of the government, it turns out, and even though most of the commenters are civilians, they’re ready to suit up to make sure the paper can’t keep publishing its critical views. The strategy is simple — rack up enough abuse reports to knock the site off Facebook, effectively cutting it off from its audience. It’s a surprising tactic, but it works. Vietnamese groups have counted 44 different journalists and activists who have had their accounts taken down in recent months, including countless more publications. For many, like the journalist Liberty Melinh, the shutdown turns into a permanent hiatus.

 Facebook needs to commit adequate resources to ensure the abuse reporting process isn’t abused.