Several dozen grassroots remain movement leaders were blocked from posting or commenting on Facebook yesterday, disrupting the promotion and organisation of #StopBrexit National March in Manchester on 1 October.
Anyone sharing the official event page received a message from Facebook that they were barred until 3 October, preventing them from sharing any details about the protest until after it had taken place, which quickly fueled suspicions that someone was attempting to sabotage the march.
Remain campaigner Laura said, “We need to tell people that a mass rally against Brexit and march on the Conservative conference is happening this Sunday but we’ve all been barred”.
“We also need to ask people to donate to our crowdfunder, as the march is being organised by grassroots volunteers, yet this is being sabotaged.”
The block also affected remainers in other groups, including Brighton and Hove for Europe, who organised the highly successful Stop Brexit in Brighton march attended by thousands on 24 Sept, as well as leaders of The 48% and many other groups.
While the ban has since been lifted, it severely disrupted the work of the march organisers, and its occurrence also creates concerns over the heavy reliance on Facebook as a communications tool by grassroots campaigners in general.
Its causes remain unexplained, and while some have explained it as an unlucky coincidence caused by a change of Facebook’s algorithms, many remainers question this, as the bar only applied to from the official event page. Twitter has been alive with speculations on the causes, and many believe that it was a deliberate bot attack by leave campaigners to prevent the march from gaining publicity.
This latest development comes after confusion over the fact that two separate remain organisations are organising separate rallies at the protests taking place at the Conservative Party Conference this Sunday, and that some remain newsletters and posters failed to make any mention of the massive march that is taking place in Manchester that day.
“If people are going to travel all the way to Manchester to protest against Brexit, then they should know that the march is on” says Peter French, a leading figure in the remain movement and spokesman for the march. “Contrary to rumours circulating, there is no real clash between the programmes that day. While the march has to be dispersed into different directions at the finish, there is nothing to prevent them from joining later and getting involved in all the events that day”.
The Stop Brexit March is preceded by a rally at All Saints Park on Oxford Road from 11.00 a.m., and the speeches will be broadcast on screens along the road from 11.30 a.m. The crowd will assemble into the march line along Oxford Road, with the front end at All Saints Park and the back in the vicinity of Whitworth Park, until it scheduled to depart at 1.30 p.m.
After this, the local group Manchester for Europe is holding its own separately organised and funded rally at Cathedal Gardens. While this starts from 2 p.m. with family entertainment, the speakers are not scheduled until 3.30 p.m., giving those marchers wishing to join ample time to take a break, and get something to eat on the way there.
While funding for the event at Cathedral Gardens is in place, the Stop Brexit March fundraiser is still several thousand pounds short of its target.
To see its current level, please follow the link to the crowdpac site – and give generously if you want to help MAKE MANCHESTER MASSIVE.