The censorship of Mussolini returns to Facebook: to pay the price ... the great-grandson. And the whole democracy!

(To Marco Valerio Verni)
09/04/19

As announced by the interested party himself, the profile of Caio Giulio Cesare Mussolini (among the future candidates in the upcoming elections Europeans, in the southern college, within the ranks of the party led by Giorgia Meloni) had been blocked in the past few hours by Facebook, the well-known social network, until next April 11.

The guilt that had transpired could be the basis of this inexplicable gesture, endorsed by many users of the same social network, as well as from some political exponents, it would have been to be, the aforementioned, the great-grandson of Benito Mussolini, political and Italian prime minister between the 1922 and the 1943, and, therefore, to be the bearer of the relative surname. This also in the light of some similar problems that other relatives of the same would have incurred.

In fact, as posted by Mussolini himself (great-grandson, we mean: no one is alarmed), the profile in question would have been reactivated almost immediately following the growing and obvious political controversy that immediately arose, with so much "indirect apology" , by the American company led by Mark Zuckerberg.

Beyond the difficulty of understanding where he could reside, if this (of the surname) really should have been the cause of the work of Facebook, the illicit (civil, criminal, administrative, ethical, political or who knows what other nature ), would have appeared extremely contradictory (and the conditional would have disappeared, turning into indicative, if, in these hours, as mentioned, the account in question had not been reactivated), in fact, the behavior of the team of social network intended to evaluate the censorship of the various profiles, since, navigating here and there among the various "policies" that regulate the life of the same, there is a continuous and very correct reference to anti-discriminatory policies: in the sector dedicated to advertising, to example, we read clearly that "Our advertising policies prohibit advertisers from discriminating against individuals or groups of people. Ads are discriminatory when they deny opportunities for individuals or groups of people based on certain personal attributes, such as race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, family / marital status, disability, or medical or genetic condition"1. A list of criteria impeding any very well-detailed distinction, including, however, that referring to the "family / marital status"Which, for example, could well fit into the case in question. But, regardless, the wide list, beyond the fact that it refers to advertising inserts, and to the specified categories, leaves no room for any doubt about a very wide ban in this regard. Perhaps, the "surname" category could not even have been, it would have been so ridiculous and absurd. Even unthinkable.

If this were not enough, in the area destined, instead, to describe the "Corporate Governance", the editors took care of drawing up a specific paragraph on "harassment" or "harassment" ("Harassment"2), which states that "Facebook does not tolerate unlawful harassment or mistreatment by or of workers (including individual contributors, managers, and contingent workers), guests, clients, or partners in the workplace or related work-based situation on the basis of sex, race, color, nationality, ethnic or national origin, ancestry, citizenship, religion (or belief, where applicable), age, physical or mental disability, medical condition, sexual orientation, veteran status, marital status, genetic information or characteristics (or those of family member), or any other category protected under applicable federal, state, or local law".

Indeed, an immediate reporting procedure is provided where offensive conduct is found in the sense explained: "Employee Law (HRBP), Employment Law (HRBP), Employment Law (if you are suspected of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation (as described in our Harassment Policy)employmentlaw@fb.com), or to our Whistleblower Hotline. Please refer to our full Harassment Policy". As you can see, there is even a reference to a Whistleblower Hotline, intended to collect the reports of personnel included in the American company or involved in some way with it, who wanted to remain anonymous (a bit like in Italy it should happen for reporting corruption cases).

So, if the attention to "non-discrimination" is so high and so wide, the question that arises (and I, as a jurist, I ask myself especially) is: on what basis is Caio Mussolini's profile has been suspended? What would the rules be violated? And what kind? An error? Did the uncomfortable surname that he bears really have something to do with it?

But above all: because we chose to intervene here (except to retrace our steps), where there was obviously no reason, and not, instead, even with official reports to the judicial authority, in serious, concrete cases, real, which now more and more often result in worrying gravity and aggressiveness, when many hate fomenters (or, as is fashionable today to call them, as if to alleviate and diminish the meaning of the ignoble and criminal behavior, "haters") yes find comments to post (exemplary, to name a few, those against the Interior Minister Matteo Salvinibut not only) that, completely unrelated to the concept of "criticism", are highly and extremely offensive, or that incite to criminal acts, even with the sneaky (but not so much) referral to images of the past (to remain on the subject , for example, that of Mussolini hanging upside down in piazzale Loreto)?

Perhaps he is right who speaks of dictatorship of the single thought, of mainstreaming and of danger to democracy: the serious cases, to be reported, would be really many, and even more those on which Facebook or the team that takes care of the judgments in this regard would have had to intervene, but without actually doing it. Who is behind these people? What is their way of thinking, deciding and acting? What discretion do they have and, if so, with what parameters do they use it?

In general, we always try to answer an answer, but in this case I think it is impossible. Or, perhaps, too uncomfortable. Who knows that he may not be directly responsible for the known social network to supply one.

Certainly, from today, in a completely unexpected way, we will all have to pay more attention, perhaps, even to the surname we carry. And, probably, to the possible sympathies (or dislikes) we nurture, or of which we are the object.

1Certify compliance to Facebook's Non-discrimination Policy: https://www.facebook.com/business/help/136164207100893