Massimo Tartaglia became an instant celebrity in Italy after he was arrested for bashing the face of Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi with a miniature statuette last weekend. Tartaglia amassed over 100,000 fans on Facebook within days, before the social networking company shut down his page. Is Facebook curtailing free speech or, as Berlusconi claimed, did the Tartaglia fanpage amount to a virtual "campaign of hate" against the prime minister?
Berlusconi's the problem, not Facebook: It isn't Facebook's fault the public is fed up with Silvio Berluscoli's corruption, says Alex Roe at Blog from Italy. The real issue is that, thanks to Facebook, Italians can say what they want more easily than ever in their history. And the Italian government wants to stamp out their newfound freedom of communication.
"Berlusconi Attack: Blame Facebook, and Ban it"
Facebook had to buckle to the Italians: Facebook's decision to delete anti-Berlusconi content is a "very smart move," says John Brownlee at Geek.com. "Italian law is notoriously unfriendly to the Internet" -- even now, four Google executives are on trial for hosting video showing an autistic child being taunted in Turin. The creators of Facebook are obviously savvy enough "avoid similar troubles."
"Facebook removes fan pages for man accused of assaulting Italian prime minister"
Score one against free speech: It's disappointing that Facebook didn't stand up for its users, says Mike Masnick at Techdirt. Since when does the website "happily monitor and censor content" at the request of governmental leaders? Berlusconi is notorious for keeping a tight grip on the media, and now he may be trying to gain greater control over the Internet. How sad that Facebook "would so easily play along."
"Italian Politican Blames Facebook for Berlusconi Attack; Facebook Begins Self-Censorship"