David Higgerson, head of multimedia for Trinity Mirror Regionals, in discussing the rights and wrongs of Facebook carrying the "Raoul Moat legend" pages, argues on his blog that there should be a way that critics of Facebook pages could register their voice.
He writes: "Facebook’s reason for not taking the [Raoul Moat] pages down is that it felt the pages did not breach its terms and conditions. So free speech rules on Facebook? Maybe not. An interesting point made on Kate Silverton’s show on Five Live on Sunday morning was that many of those people who had become fans of these pages had done so so they could condemn the page.
"That’s the point, to me, which suggests Facebook has managed to actually stifle free speech. You have a situation where someone can create something you might find outrageous, yet you’ve no way to argue against it, other than making yourself a fan of it and then criticising it. A bit like a member of an anti-fascist group joining the BNP to infiltrate it from within – it bolsters the membership number in the short term.
"It feels as though the balance has been tipped too far in favour of people being able to say what they like, with very little scope for fair discussion – unlike on Twitter where a comment can be challenged on equal terms within seconds.
"So what’s the solution? To me, it appears simple: The ‘become a critic’ button. Don’t like a theme? Sign yourself up as a critic, get the same access as a fan to make your point. It’s right that Facebook stands up to suggestions it removes pages at the drop of a hat, but by not having the facilities in place to allow free speech to become free debate, there’s a danger the pressure to censor will simply grow and grow.