For Immediate Release

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Facebook Owes Users Explanation for Decision to Temporarily Remove ‘Boycott BP’ Fan Page

Statement of Greg Beck, Attorney, Public Citizen

WASHINGTON - Late Monday, Facebook shut down the Boycott BP fan page, effectively
locking out the page’s more than 700,000 members. After a backlash by
users, Facebook reinstated the site this morning. Facebook has not said
whether a complaint by BP prompted its decision to terminate the Boycott
BP page. Regardless, Facebook’s decision to delete the page without
warning or explanation was irresponsible.

Facebook and other social websites have become the public squares of
the Internet - places where citizens can congregate as a community to
share their opinions and voice their grievances. Facebook’s ownership of
this democratic forum carries great responsibility. At the very least,
Facebook should provide warning and a reasoned explanation before
destroying a large and active community.

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Although it is not clear whether BP is behind the page’s temporary
removal, companies often complain to Facebook about fan pages that
include their names. Here, nobody could be confused into believing that a
page named “Boycott BP” is run by BP itself. People have a right to
criticize a company by name, and BP has no right to stop it.

Note: Public Citizen’s call for a BP boycott can be found at www.BeyondBP.org.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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