Facebook hopes to stay online in Russia for 'counter-speech' to propaganda

Facebook will try to continue to operate in Russia to offer a platform for ‘counter-speech’ to the propaganda coming from Russian-state controlled media, said Nick Clegg.

The UK’s former deputy prime minister, who is now the head of global affairs at Facebook’s parent company, Meta, said it is important for the platform to stay online in Russia to allow users to ‘access information and speak out’ against the country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Yesterday, Clegg tweeted that the company has received requests from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in relation to Russian state controlled media.

‘Given the exceptional nature of the current situation, we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time,’ said Clegg in the tweet.

For the latest updates on the Russia-Ukraine war, visit our live blog: Russia-Ukraine live

Clegg confirmed it would be demoting content from Russian state-backed media outlets, and organisations too.

‘In the days ahead, we will label these links so people who do see them will have context before clicking or sharing. We plan to take similar steps on Instagram as well,’ tweeted Nathaniel Gleicher, head of security policy at Meta.

‘You can, of course, suppress, restrict, block and we do all of that – we’re being transparent about doing that – but I do think at a moment of heightened conflict it is always important to remember that it is free expression that, in the end, we should be seeking to help win out more than anything else,’

Clegg spoke to reporters as Meta published its latest quarterly Community Standards Enforcement Report, which showed Facebook took down more than one billion pieces of spam content in the last three months of 2021.

He said that 10% of people in Europe and 4% globally have at least one Facebook friend in Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine is devastating and our teams at Meta are taking a number of steps in response, detailed here: https://t.co/mqMsZ404ui

Responding to Ukrainians suggesting that access to Facebook and Instagram be stopped in Russia, Clegg said that ‘people in Russia are using FB and IG to protest and organize against the war and as a source of independent information,’

‘The Russian Government is already throttling our platform to prevent these activities. We believe turning off our services would silence important expression at a crucial time,’ he said in a tweet that laid out the company’s ongoing efforts regarding the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

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