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RUSSIA has threatened Facebook with hefty fines for allegedly censoring online news organisation Redfish on Friday after the US-based social media giant claimed that two anti-fascist posts had violated its community standards.
Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor wrote to Facebook after it blocked the Redfish page, citing posts marking the liberation of the Auschwitz Nazi death camp and the defeat of fascism in Italy and another showing racists attacking Latino men in Las Vegas.
The regulator demanded that that all restrictions be lifted as soon as possible and asked Facebook to explain the reasons for it blocking the account after enquiries by Russian-owned Redfish were stonewalled.
Roskomnadzor reminded Facebook that “ignoring warnings … about violations of the rights of Russians on the internet, including the censorship of Russian media,” can lead to fines of up to three million roubles (£29,000).
And RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said: “If the page is not back, I promise I will personally be seeking Facebook’s suspension.”
Redfish’s page has about 675,000 likes and more than 836,000 followers, with the award-winning Berlin-based media organisation’s head of production Huseyin Dogru saying that they are “dismayed’ at restrictions being imposed by Facebook while “violent, graphic and racist content is rampant across the platform.”
International Federation of Journalists general secretary Anthony Bellanger said that Facebook’s algorithms were “not fit for purpose” after the Auschwitz post was flagged for violating rules of “nudity and sexual activity” because it showed two Holocaust survivors shirtless.
“Journalism is about context,” he said, adding: “If they have been removed for political reasons, then there are grave concerns that an unaccountable private corporation like Facebook can decide which political views it allows and which it decides to censor. That is a dangerous path to go down.”
Mr Dogru told the Morning Star today that the Facebook page had been reinstated, but with more restrictions and the threat that it could be closed down at any time.
“The situation is worse than before,” he said, explaining that Google search results no longer link to the Redfish page after Facebook gave it a new URL.
“The page is restricted, our posts are not recommended and no-one can see us, except people that follow us. There was also a message saying: ‘Your page could be taken down at any time.’ So if we do anything wrong according to their standards, whatever it is, they are going to delete the page.”
Facebook was contacted for comment.
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