Facebook’s ‘brutal’ takedown of Russia-linked pages ‘act of censorship’ – global journo union chief

The way Facebook promptly took down pages with ties to RT is tantamount to censorship, the head of the world’s largest media union, the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) said.

“Closing a Facebook account or any internet link of a media, without prior warning, can be considered as an act of censorship opposed by the IFJ,” the group’s chief Philippe Leruth told RIA Novosti.

His remarks came after Facebook suddenly removed several news and viral video-themed pages with millions of subscribers, managed by Maffick Media, on Friday. It happened immediately after CNN ran a report accusing the agency of being part of a Russian “influence campaign.” The reason given was that Maffick is partially owned by Ruptly video agency, a subsidiary of RT which is funded by Russia. Facebook gave no notice or warning before taking down the pages. The company later said that it is launching an update for popular pages and will request them to disclose their ownership.

“Closing brutally any link doesn't respect this normal way of doing [things],” Leruth said explaining that even if a media organization is accused of “spreading fake news,” it should be asked for the “rectification” of the information presented, and if it refuses – other steps can be taken, including legal action.

Maffick’s team heavily pushed back against Facebook, pointing out that its pages didn’t violate any of the social network’s rules. News agencies weren’t required to display information on their funding and ownership on Facebook, and the social network never came after other state-funded media, like the BBC, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty or Qatari-owned Al Jazeera, they argued.

Four days after taking down the pages Facebook got back to Maffick saying that more information is needed in About section.

RFE/RL updated its page later on Tuesday.

Co-founder of the Intercept, journalist Glenn Greenwald also criticized Facebook’s actions as “highly disturbing.” The company, along with CNN and the US-funded German Marshall Fund, whose opinion was prominently featured in CNN’s story, are “working together to selectively censor,” he wrote on Twitter.

Speaking to RT, journalist and political commentator Martin Summers said that Facebook’s action against Maffick Media brings up a broader question on whether the social media giant “should have the power to decide what people see here.”

Also on rt.com ‘End of free speech’: Maffick CEO, host slam Facebook’s unprovoked ‘censorship’ after CNN report

“When you do internet searches… you’re supposed to find the thing that the most people are looking at. But, of course, now they’ve started talking about changing the algorithms.”

“It’s quite clear that the ‘Russiagate’ is out of control,” RT’s deputy director for creativity and innovation, Ivor Crotty noted. “The narrative, paranoia and conspiracy theories around it are starting to disintegrate.”

Maffick Media said that it appealed the removal of its pages immediately after it happened, but has still received no reply from Facebook.

Also on rt.com To 'save face' Facebook is poised to 'appease' critics like CNN over Russia stories – analyst to RT

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, meanwhile, suggested that Russia shouldn’t retaliate in ‘an-eye-for-an-eye’ fashion but rather focus on maintaining a “comfortable” environment for foreign reporters.

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!