Facebook on its role in revolutions: no comment

Facebook officials are making a point to remain silent about revolutions around the world where the service is being used as a tool by activists. Here's why this is a smart move.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

It's no secret that Facebook has had, and will continue to have, a major role during the various revolutions in Arab countries like Tunisia (2 million users) and Egypt (5 million users). Recently, Facebook pages and groups have been created by protesters in Algeria, Bahrain, Morocco, and Syria. So what is the company's official stance on how its platform is bringing change to the Middle East? No comment.

The New York Times reports that the company's top executives do not want to talk about the whole thing, rather than highlight the historic moment of Facebook helping bring democratic change:

While it has become one of the primary tools for activists to mobilize protests and share information, Facebook does not want to be seen as picking sides for fear that some countries — like Syria, where it just gained a foothold — would impose restrictions on its use or more closely monitor users, according to some company executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal business.

Frankly, I think this is a smart move. Facebook really doesn't gain anything from championing its platform's accomplishments in revolutions. The social networking giant is already getting enough of a PR boost from the various media outlets reporting on how Facebook is being used as a tool by activists, and all the great results that this is bringing.

Generally speaking, Facebook is still widely available around the world (although there is restricted access in countries like China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran). Doing anything but keeping quiet could tip the scales for countries that are currently on the fence about whether or not to block the service.

Facebook may be based in Palo Alto, California, United States, but what many fail to remember is that the 7-year-old service is already more global than the larger majority of American companies. Facebook already has some 600 million users, meaning that if it were a country, it would be the world's third largest by population, only behind China and India. If Palo Alto wants to keep growing its user base, it needs to remain as neutral as possible in any type of political warfare.

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