Facebook ‘disappears’ RT Arabic
Mark Zuckerberg’s flagship social network has deleted the page for RT Arabic, rejecting all appeals and handing the address to another user, the channel’s head Maya Manna said on Thursday.
“Two weeks we fought with Facebook to restore the suspended page of RT Arabic, with 17 million subscribers,” Manna said on her Telegram channel. “We tried to get an explanation of what triggered the shutdown, because we never got any strikes or comments.”
After several awkward non-explanations, Facebook’s customer service “simply wished us luck, closed our case, and turned over the URL to another user,” Manna wrote. “Internet democracy in all its glory!”
Facebook blocked the page on March 15, without any explanation or advance warning. Attempts to access the page resulted in the message, “this content isn’t available right now.”
Manna protested the move, calling it proof that the West doesn’t believe in free speech, only “total censorship and blocking.” By way of example, she brought up the EU ban on all “Russian state media” after the military operation in Ukraine began in February 2022, including all of RT’s channels.
“Apparently, this is not enough – the very fact that we exist does not allow them to sleep peacefully,” Manna added.
YouTube was quick to apply the EU ban globally, but continued operating in Russia, its CEO at the time, Susan Wojcicki, told the World Economic Forum in Davos last May. The Ukraine conflict showed that information had “a key role” and “can be weaponized,” said Wojcicki, so YouTube wanted to “help [Russian] citizens know what’s going on and have perspectives from the outside world.”
In November last year, after Facebook’s parent company Meta amended its “violent speech” rules to allow calls of “death to Russians” in the West, the Russian Justice Ministry added it to the register of extremist organizations. The decision affected Facebook and Instagram, but not the messaging platform WhatsApp, because it fell under a different legal category.