TL;DR – If there’s something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call?
Lim Tean, the outspoken opposition politician, recently posted a video criticising the Budget as having no substance. Shortly after that video went around, Mr Lim’s Facebook account appeared to have been disabled. Some people immediately accused the PAP Internet Brigade or IB for being the ones responsible for Facebook disabling Mr Lim’s account.
Is that possible?
If an account posts things that violate Facebook’s community standards, Facebook may disable the account. But how does Facebook know? Usually, Facebook gets notified by other Facebook users. If enough Facebook users think that a particular Facebook account is posting things that violate the Facebook community standards, then Facebook might take action and disable the account. Facebook may then re-enable the account if, after it conducts its own investigation, it finds that the account didn’t violate Facebook’s community standards.
That’s what some people think happened. They think that the PAP IB turned out in force to flag content on Mr Lim’s page as having violated Facebook’s community standards. For those who don’t know what PAP IB is, the term refers to PAP’s new media capabilities group that executes strategies online to counter opposing views.
That is indeed a possible scenario. Someone in PAP, who felt the need to “silence” Mr Lim, instructed the PAP IB to flag what he posted as offensive. Another possible scenario is that some overzealous PAP supporters felt offended by what Mr Lim posted and complained to Facebook.
While either those scenarios are possible, we can’t be sure that either those scenarios are what happened.
I’ve also heard another pseudo-conspiracy theory, which could be possible too. This theory is that a group of opposition people “complained” to Facebook and got Mr Lim’s account temporarily disabled. Their intention is to frame the PAP IB so that people get angry with PAP.
We aren’t saying that that’s definitely what happened. We can’t prove it. Just as no one can prove that the PAP IB were indeed behind Mr Lim’s account being disabled.
Or it might not be due to anything that scandalous
Another, less scandalous, possibility is that Facebook detected a possible breach to the security of the account. There are instances where accounts get locked as a security precaution. This could happen if the account appeared to be accessed from a suspicious location. And if we look closer at the details of the incident, it seems like that is very likely to be what happened.
Because when Mr Lim tried to log in the morning after posting the video, he apparently received a message from FaceBook informing him he needed to do a “security check” before he could gain access to his account and this was to be done by sending a security code via sms. He didn’t receive any security code, even after using another mobile number, and changing his password. He did eventually gain access to his FB account, and his page was eventually revived.
So it could just be possible that Facebook, for whatever reasons, felt that there could have been a security breach of Mr Lim’s account. As to why Mr Lim didn’t receive the security code, that could be due to some technical glitch.
At the end of the day
We may never know why Mr Lim couldn’t access his account for a short period of time. It could be because of the PAP IB, or some over-zealous, over-sensitive PAP supporters who complained, but then again, we should also not go out of our way to dream up conspiracy theories, and malign people without proof either.