Have Facebook’s watchdog robots gone hyperactive? According to the Russian press agency TASS, Facebook declared as “fake news” and blocked a TASS post about the arrest of supporters of a Ukrainian radical youth group in the city of Voronezh in southwestern Russia.
The TASS news item, dated February 18, reported that Russia’s Federal Security Service “nipped the activities of supporters of a Ukrainian radical youth group involved in the propaganda of the ideology of neo-Nazism and massacres.”
Facebook claimed that the post had been canceled in response to a request from the Ukrainian fact-checking service StopFake.
But according to TASS, the story was based on an official press statement from the Federal Security Service and the Investigative Committee. TASS insists that it laid out the information correctly and wants Facebook to explain its actions.
TASS believes the reason for the skewed treatment is the result of Facebook’s launching a content fact-checking program in Ukraine back in March 2020. Facebook picked as partners for the project two Ukrainian groups: VoxCheck and StopFake. Now it makes sense, doesn’t it?
Russia’s Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology, and Mass Media (Roscomnadzor) has demanded Facebook restore access to the TASS content, alongside other Russian media conglomerates.
“Roscomnadzor has issued a letter to Facebook administration demanding access be restored to the information posted on official accounts of the Russian mass media Vzglyad, RBC, and TASS,” the watchdog said on its Telegram channel. It also stressed that Facebook’s actions “violate key principles of free dissemination of information, unimpeded access to it and can be described as an act of censorship.”
Roscomnadzor reminded Facebook that infringement on the right to free access to information is punishable by an administrative fine of up to one million rubles ($13,450) and should the violation be repeated – three million rubles ($40,350).