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Updated: India Against Corrpution Facebook Group Is Unavailable; Our Take

Update: The Facebook page is back up nowtemplated response that IAC received, which says that “Your page is currently inaccessible due to Site Maintenance. This is because we’re making an improvement to the database that your account is stored on.” Well, it’s surprising that IAC wasn’t informed about the downtime, and that the site was down for so long. Meanwhile, we still haven’t received a response from Facebook PR.

Yesterday: The Facebook page for India Against Corruption has been unavailable for over six hours now, and no one appears to know why. The Facebook page, which along-with the JanLokPal twitter account, has been used by the citizen driven anti-corruption movement in India manage its community. Speaking with MediaNama, Shivender Singh Chauhan, the administrator of the group said that they don’t know if it is a technology issue or whether the page has been taken down by Facebook.

“This page is the most important thing for us, as it’s our own media, and it helps us dessiminate information about the movement, and helps in the community building process. We are going to contact the support at Facebook, and we have been talking about the page being unavailable, on twitter. As of now, it’s too early to say (what has gone wrong), because it has happened earlier, but then then it was down just for a few minutes,” Chauhan said.

MediaNama has contacted Facebook, and we’ll update in case there is a response.

Our Take

– Our Own Media? To us, this situation highlights the fact that this isn’t really “our own media”, as Chauhan puts it. The page isn’t on an independent platform, it’s on Facebook. This means that it is governed by Facebook’s terms and conditions and is subject to its technical issues on Facebook and more importantly, how Facebook responds to government requests for takedown. You lose the page, and you lose the access to the fans through Facebook. This highlights the dominance of platforms such as Facebook and Google, because they are sources of access to people. It can work for you, like it did in case of Egypt, and it can work against you, in case these sites comply with governments.

– Responsiveness: Also worth noting is how inaccessible and unresponsive these dominant platforms can be, in terms of providing responses to their users. If a twitter account gets blocked, a Facebook page gets removed or Google shuts down an Adsense or Adwords account, there is typically a templated response even from support, unless the community gets involved, or you know someone in the company. It is quite arbitrary, as we found once when MediaNama was removed from Google News without any reason. We only got a templated response, and eventually it was fixed when we asked someone we knew for help. All we needed to do, eventually, was add our physical address to the sites about page, but the templated response never specified that. Take a look: Facebook’s profile page for IAC doesn’t have any information on how to get this problem fixed.

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