In Digest, Ukraine, Friday, May 15, 2015

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has responded to Ukrainians’ complaints about “unfair” deleting and blocking of their Facebook posts and accounts. The tech boss says they were too hateful.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook (Reuters)

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Mark Zuckerberg, Founder and CEO of Facebook (Reuters)

In a Thurdsay Q&A session from Menlo Park, California, Zuckerberg dismissed claims of Russian influence being behind the blockings. He was responding to a complaint that had garnered almost 50,000 likes.

As an example of unfair blocking, the complaint post used the picture of a Ukrainian soldier’s daughter, which, he said, was reported as containing nudity. The picture, while showing nothing of the kind, was accompanied by hate speech directed at Russia’s President Putin. Zuckerberg said the “nudity” tag was a software glitch, and the post was indeed taken down for hate speech.

“We don’t allow content that is overtly hateful, contains ethnic slurs, or incites violence,” Zuckerberg said about the blockings. “There were a few posts that tripped that rule, and I think we did the right thing according to our policies by taking down that content.”

The social network’s founder said he had “done some research” prior to answering, and he was adamant the takedowns were not politically motivated. He also denied there was any Russian involvement in the moderation of the Ukrainian posts. In fact, there is no such thing as a “Russian Facebook office” mentioned in some of the complaints. Posts from both Russia and Ukraine are moderated in Ireland.

Earlier, Russian opposition blogger Anton Nossik accused “Kremlin bots” of leading a cyber-war against “unwanted” posts. He said they spam the moderators with reports about the posts, and “an English-speaking website moderator who doesn’t read Russian and doesn’t understand the situation concludes the post really does violate some community guidelines.”

This was contradicted in a 2014 interview with Richard Allan, Facebook’s director for public policy in Europe. “We’ve been running the service for 10 years,” he told The Global Voices’ RuNet Echo. “We’ve very quickly learned that a lot of reports is not a very good indicator of whether content is bad.”

During the Q&A, Zuckerberg also touched upon opening a Ukrainian Facebook office, saying: “Over time it is something we might consider.”

That answer might pour some cold water on the apparent enthusiasm shown by Ukraine’s President Poroshenko, who earlier said on his Facebook page that “a dialogue with FB headquarters has started.”

“It is vital to us that FB ultimately opens an office in Ukraine,” the post goes on – a somewhat surprising priority for a country facing simmering internal conflict and a sliding economy. With a GDP down 6.5 percent over the past year, the Economist magazine named Ukraine as having the fastest falling economy of 2015.

Read also:
Ukraine GDP drops 18 per cent in first quarter of 2015,


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