Thousands of Facebook users in Ukraine have accused the social networking giant of pro-Russian bias. Ahead of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s Townhall Q&A on Thursday, a close aide of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said there was a “pro-Russian influence” on the social networking site.
Poroshenko asks Facebook to open office in Ukraine
Dmytro Shymkiv, deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential administration, asked the Menlo Park-based company to solve the problem. Shymkiv said there was “pressure on Facebook office in Russia.” He said Ukrainian users were being overseen by Russian moderators swayed by the Kremlin’s political agenda. Thousands of Ukrainian Facebook users appealed Mark Zuckerberg to create a dedicated office in Ukraine to avoid the pro-Russian bias.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko took the issue to a whole new level my making a personal appeal from his official Facebook account to open an office in Ukraine. Many people in Ukraine have complained of deletion of posts and banning of users that were critical of Russia’s role in the Ukraine crisis, even though they did not violate Facebook’s community guidelines. Kiev and Western forces have accused Moscow of backing pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.
Is Facebook itself a victim?
Earlier, senior Facebook executives had argued that the company’s Russian-language unit is managed from the Ireland office, and the company did not have a physical office in Russia. However, Facebook admitted that the director of its Russian-language segment was a Russian. During the Townhall Q&A session, Mark Zuckerberg said the social networking giant “might consider” opening a separate office in Ukraine “in the future.”
Social media observers told AFP that Russia has built an army of Internet “trolls” that monitor social media content critical of Moscow. They manipulate Facebook’s system to stir up a flurry of complaints against the target user. It leads to Facebook blocking that user’s account. A former Russian cyber warrior told AFP that most of the Russian “trolls” worked from an office in Saint Petersburg.
Sergei Parkhomenko, a blogger and journalist, said that Facebook itself may be a victim of Russian abuse. Unfortunately, they can’t do much about this.