StudiVZ is a Facebook-style operation and is Germany’s largest web-based social networking site. With the European Parliament elections in sight, the website recently opened up to established political parties for election campaigning. Not for all parties though, as they chose to ban the Pirate Party.
Just a few days ago it was announced that German political parties would be allowed to campaign and engage the public via the social networking site StudiVZ. Not all parties will be allowed to participate though, since the German Pirate Party has been undemocratically banned from StudiVZ.
The other political parties were allowed to have a special account to show they are an organization and not an individual. The Pirate Party, however, was not allowed to have one and instead operated on a standard user account registered by an individual.
StudiVZ noticed that the Pirate Party account was not a “real person” and despite it having a thriving network with hundreds of followers, it was summarily deleted. This means that it is impossible for the Pirate Party to have a presence at all on the largest social networking site in Germany.
The person who created the profile on the site said the action taken by StudiVZ had backfired, noting, “Many young and first-time voters only really became aware of us because they erased our profile.”
The Pirate Party said it condemned the anti-democratic behavior of StudiVZ’s operators and called for the “opening up of the platform for all recognized parties in Germany.” For the Pirate Party in particular, social networking sites are an essential tool in their election campaign.
Andreas Popp, lead candidate for the upcoming European Parliament elections characterizes the censorship as undemocratic. “Just think about it: The Pirate Party needs to put up with a ‘cheap spot’ in a Web 2.0 community, only to get kicked off again. It’s a huge scandal that the smaller parties are being discriminated against in their opportunities to advertise on StudiVZ. That’s not how a democracy works.”
To make it even more absurd, the ideals and plans of the party may be of use to StudiVZ in the future as Facebook will take the German site to court for pirating their concept. We doubt that the German Facebook knockoff can count on support from The Pirate Party in this case.