After a months-long battle to reinstate his account, 83-year-old Edward Willamowicz said he was shutting down his Poland Forever page due to censorship pressure from Facebook.
The popular page, which was featured in a televized interview with Polish media outlet PolandIn, and known for sharing articles and photos about Polish history, culture, and politics, was not banned in the typical way but instead its creator, Willamowicz, was banned from using his personal account to administer the page.
“As of 13 May, I have been banned and cannot enable my original Facebook account to carry out my duties on this page. Except for commenting from a new account, I cannot post, remove spam, etc. nor even delete the Poland Forever page. All this despite my many appeals to Facebook about re-enabling my account,” Willamowicz wrote in a post on Facebook.
Willamowicz sometimes posted content that was positive to Poland’s conservative Law and Justice party (PiS), but most of his posts were non-political. Still, given Facebook’s frequent silencing of conservative content and pages, there is some concern that the banning of Willamowicz’s may have been an effort to silence his pro-PiS and patriotic content.
Willamowicz’s personal account was first locked on May 13., which was the only administrator account running Poland Forever. He not only lost his ability to run Poland Forever, but he also his thousands of contacts and friends.
The page was not banned by Facebook in the typical manner. Although users can still access it, the only administrator, Willamowicz, was locked out of his personal account. If fans visit the page, they are still able to see it, but most are probably unaware that the person responsible for running the page can no longer do so.
The Poland Forever page also had one editor account, which was assigned to an acquaintance of Willamowicz. Although the editor could still post content to the page, the person running the editor account was unable to post on a regular basis, effectively throttling the page. The editor also did not have the power to delete spam, moderate discussions or assign new users to administrate the Poland Forever page.
Willamowicz said that his banning appeared to result from an article he posted from a mainstream website, ThoughtCo., entitled “Causes of World War II“, which featured a photograph of Adolf Hitler. Facebook has a ban on content that glorifies Nazis, but despite the article featuring a lead photograph of Adolf Hitler, the article itself was anti-Nazi. Despite multiple appeals to Facebook from Willamowicz and explanation that he was posting an anti-Nazi article, the company has not reinstated his account for nearly half a year.
Willamowicz, who was born in Poland but left the country for Canada as a young man due to the stifling communist system in the country, founded the Poland Forever page in 2015. After five years of effort, he decided he no longer wanted to struggle against Facebook, writing in a post under a new account he registered:
“Thank you so much, friends, for sharing with me Polish civilization, customs, and history… I appreciate it and am very happy that thousands worldwide have learned a bit more about Poland, which especially in the last few years, is approaching the living standards of Western Europe and making astonishing progress to a promising future. After more than five years of dedicated work on this page, it’s just too frustrating for me, an 83-year-old, to watch its deliberate breakdown. Unfortunately, I am left with no choice but to bid you this final farewell.”
Facebook was requested to comment on the banning of Willamowicz’s account, but after two weeks, the California Big Tech company has still not responded to questions from Remix News.
Despite multiple requests, Willamowicz refused to provide a public statement about the banning of his account to Remix News, saying he said he all he wanted to say in his farewell Facebook post on the subject.