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Censorship Facebook Your Rights Online

Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots 254

Posted by samzenpus
from the bot-breaker dept.
mi writes "Ukrainian media is reporting (link in Ukrainian), that Facebook is getting increasingly heavy-handed blocking Ukrainian bloggers. The likely explanation for the observed phenomenon is that Facebook's Ukrainian office is located in Russia and is headed by a Russian citizen (Catherine Skorobogatov). For example, a post calling on Russian mothers to not let their sons go to war was blocked "Due to multiple complaints". Fed up, Ukrainian users are writing directly to Zukerberg to ask him to replace Catherine with someone, who would not be quite as swayed by the "complaints" generated by Russian bots.
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Ukraine Asks Zuckerberg to Discipline Kremlin Facebook Bots

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  • by Zocalo (252965) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @01:42PM (#47796087) Homepage
    Reading between the lines of the article I think you probably got the gist of what happens, but missed the crux of the complaint. I get the impression that Ukrainians believe something like this is happening:
    1. 1. Pro-Ukraine poster makes a post.
    2. 2. Pro-Russian bots generate complaints into Facebook's automated systems.
    3. 3. The post gets automatically blocked.
    4. 4. OP appeals to the Ukrainian office to get it re-instated.
    5. 5. OP's appeal is denied because the Ukrainian office is actually in Russia and headed by an alledgedly non-neutral Russian.

    There's definitely a potential problem there, and one that will probably be repeated in similar circumstances in the future. Seems to me that the best thing FB (or anyone else) can do in this situation is to remove oversight for posts made by both sides from regional offices in the area in question and hand them off to more neutral offices, at least for posts concerning the conflict.

  • Re:Wait.... what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ShanghaiBill (739463) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @02:07PM (#47796171)

    ...Facebook's Ukrainian office is located in Russia...

    Whose brilliant idea was that?

    Lots of sensible decisions look dumb in hindsight. Until a few months ago, Ukraine and Russia were on fairly good terms. Russia is Ukraine's biggest trading partner. Nearly half of Ukrainians speak Russian as their first language. So, since FB already had an office in Russia, it made sense to let that office handle Ukraine as well. Even if there was a separate office in Ukraine, the situation would not be much different. If the office was located in Donetsk or Luhansk, it would still be pro-Russian. If it was in Kiev or Lviv, it would be just as biased in the other direction.

  • by Zocalo (252965) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @02:11PM (#47796181) Homepage
    That would be why I wrote "Ukrainians believe", but given the obvious bias shown by certain elements of the media on both sides of the conflict I don't think it much of a stretch that this could actually be happening. My point though was more about the general problem here in that most tend to be local enough to fall within the territory of the same regional office for a given company, and that office is within a country with a stake in the conflict, let alone one that has a track record for having poor freedom of the press, then accusations like this are probably inevitable. Now that the issue has been highlighted, we can only hope that FB et al think about how they might deal with such potential censorship in the future.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2014 @03:14PM (#47796451)
    Here's a tip, my Russian friend: if you want to pretend to be a neutral observer on the Ukrainian conflict in an internet forum, then you'd do better to proofread your post again and again until you manage to remove the little telltale signs that your native language is Russian. No informed reader of your post above is going to be convinced you don't have a significant dog in this fight.
  • Re:Rules of war (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2014 @04:07PM (#47796699)

    If Russia didn't care about international opinion/backlash you are probably correct except for the possible insurgency after the fact. They manifestly care about international opinion though Putin seems to really enjoy playing the game.

  • Re:Rules of war (Score:5, Interesting)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Sunday August 31, 2014 @08:35PM (#47797543) Journal

    (heaven forbid they try, there are NATO air resources all around the place and those might get involved, resulting in a far larger-scale war).

    NATO will not go to war with Russia over Ukraine. None of the members of NATO have that obligation since Ukraine is not a member, and moreover, none of them want to risk lives to defend Ukraine. It's a similar situation to Hungary in the 50s......did anyone help them? Of that situation, Krushkev said:

    "In a newspaper interview in 1957, Khrushchev commented "support by United States ... is rather in the nature of the support that the rope gives to a hanged man."

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 31, 2014 @11:27PM (#47798157)

    Why? I'm Ukrainian and if I could I would have edited and removed even more stuff than she did. Point is Ukraine is divided, there is more than one opinion. One side thinks that EU will make it stronger, the other thinks that re-uniting with Russia will make it stronger. Overall, your average Ukrainian has a hell of a lot more in common with Russians than with any other European country, it was the same country for hundreds of years after all. Though that kind of varies from region to region, region that is most pro-current-Kiev and pro EU was technically part of Poland until 1939 (not that long ago). Region where I'm from has always been Russian until 23 years ago, and nobody really asked us if we wanted to split away from USSR . Hence the difference in opinion on what's better.

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