Peru’s ombudsman in Lima has requested an explanation from Lima’s municipal government after increasing complaints from citizens blocked from the city’s Facebook page.
Facebook page administrators can remove or ban users from interacting with their page. Removing a user “unlikes” the page for them and prevents any posts from appearing in their feed. Banning a user takes away their ability to like or comment on posts. The Municipalidad Metropolitana de Lima appears to have been banning Facebook users as people cannot post comment on news stories.
While some users were banned during the administration of former mayor Susana Villaran, the number of users affected has increased significantly since current mayor Luis Castañeda took office in January. Estimates place the number of blocked users at 3,000, a number seen as excessive for a page managed with public funds. Some have gone so far as to say banning users is illegal according to a government transparency law.
The city responded to the ombudsman about one particular case who was banned from the city’s cultural heritage page due to a “technical error.” The ombudsman praised the city for posting community rules to its Facebook page which include a profanity filter, but insisted that the rest of the banned users’ complaints be addressed.
After winning a landslide election last October, Luis Castañeda has seen his approval ratings plummet amid a series of controversies in his first 100 days of office, including the high-profile removal of murals from downtown Lima and the cancellation of the Rio Verde project in favor of expanding three key avenues. Many suspect the Facebook users were banned because they were too critical of the administration.
Municipalidad de Lima y bloqueos en Facebook: ¿qué pasó? (El Comercio)
Los rocones virtuales de la Municipalidad (La Republica)