Facebook has long been a platform for various people of different interests, beliefs, and even affiliations. But they seem to be working hard against racism as it recently shut down 100 skinhead Facebook accounts. However, the platform's algorithms targeted all related accounts regardless if they were racist, against racism, musicians, or just fans of reggae or ska music. Reports of the crackdown surfaced on Monday, June 8.
According to One Zero, affected Facebook accounts include those of ska/dub/reggae band Dakka Shanks vocalist Clara Byrne and British music journalist Guy Shankland.
(Photo : From The Specials - Neville Staple Facebook Page) Neville Staple with wife Sugary Staple
In a tweet posted on Wednesday, June 10, Journalist Garry Bushell confirmed that "100s of UK accounts with any link to skinhead culture" were shut down. A Redditor speculated that social media network even barred those who merely liked or followed Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (S.H.A.R.P.) as well as fans of street punk bands.
Facebook apologized about the mistake and has already reinstated the affected accounts. "We apologize to those affected by this issue," a Facebook spokesperson told OneZero. "These accounts were removed in error and have been reinstated, the spokesperson said adding that they are already investigating on the matter and "are taking steps to ensure it doesn't happen again."
Last week, 200 Facebook accounts that encourage people to join the Black Lives Matter protests were deactivated. These accounts were linked to white supremacist groups, the Proud Boys and the American Guard, that are already banned on social media platforms.
The wide spectrum of Skinhead Facebook algorithm does not realize
Currently, there are two existing spectrums of skinhead subculture: one rooted in Jamaican music, and the other more about white supremacy.
The original skinhead subculture crosses with various music scenes, bands, and musicians. This means musicians' pages were affected by the crackdown. The most notable deactivated account was that of The Specials' Neville Staple whose case is a perfect example of Facebook's misunderstanding of subculture. The Specials were first in the 2 Tone genre that adopted diversity against white nationalism and attracted an early skinhead following.
Thus the Jamaica-born frontman was referred to as the "original rude boy" and is known for his 2-tone ska community legacy. This diverse musical genre has Jamaican roots.
"Please look into things before doing a general cull," Staple tweeted yesterday. He regularly performs live music on Facebook.
Neville's wife, artist Sugary Staple also tweeted, "Unity runs through the veins of me & @SugaryStaple plus all our 2Tone Ska community's veins!" Facebook also suspended Sugary's account, but the platform said both of their accounts are already reinstated.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the "skinhead style first emerged as part of a non-racist and multiracial scene." It is associated with ska, dancehall, and reggae music, which can be witnessed among bands like The Specials.
In the 1960s, Skinhead subculture surfaced in working-class London and has since experienced numerous waves and movements.
However, white supremacy, racism, and fascism have also associated with skinheads. Violence and murder were also committed by hate groups who link themselves with the subculture.
Facebook deactivated skinhead accounts in error
Facebook Vice President of Integrity (Project Management) Guy Rosen's tweeted on Wednesday afternoon that they have "mistakenly logged out" skinhead-affiliated accounts while trying to delete "several networks."
The Facebook spokesperson also confirmed to Gizmodo that Staple's page was one of the affected accounts, although the company did not elaborate further on how the Staples' accounts were included in the list of bad actors.
We mistakenly logged out these accounts, which have now been reinstated, during a takedown of several networks of bad actors this week. We're sorry for the error and are reviewing to better understand what happened. — Guy Rosen (@guyro) June 10, 2020
According to OneZero, Facebook asked some owners of deactivated accounts to share their profile photo, which the company was checking for inauthentic behavior and evading enforcement that goes against Facebook's Community Standards.
Facebook has been tracking and deleting accounts with "inauthentic behavior." It removed pages with an inauthentic admin that promoted legitimate anti-"Unite the Right 2.0" rally. Later, Facebook removed the entire legitimate organizing effort.