A spokesman cried foul on Facebook's decision to delete hundreds of accounts and pages associated with a Russian "troll farm," calling the move akin to censorship, Reuters reported Thursday. The social media giant announced this week that it had removed more than 200 pages, accounts, and ads that were run by the Russia-based Internet Research Agency, a company that was indicted for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
A reporter asked Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov whether the move was a hostile one and whether it amounted to censorship against Moscow. "Yes, it is," responded Peskov. "We are of course following this and we regret it."
Facebook said that it deleted pages because they were controlled by the IRA, not because of any particular content that the pages contained. "The IRA has repeatedly used complex networks of inauthentic accounts to deceive and manipulate people," Facebook wrote in a blog post.
Another Russian news outlet, the Federal News Agency, reportedly also had pages removed from Facebook. NPR reports that the outlet said its content had been taken down "for no reason." Russia's Federal News Agency is associated with Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman who was indicted last month for interfering in the 2016 election. Read more at NPR. Summer Meza
The company removed pages belonging to far-right U.K. group Britain First for repeatedly posting "content designed to incite animosity and hatred against minority groups," Facebook explained in a blog post on Wednesday. The social media site said the group had ignored a final written warning asking it to stop sharing content that violates Facebook's hate speech community standards. The group's leaders, who were jailed last week after being convicted of religiously aggravated harassment, have also been banned from the site, BBC reports.
The Britain First page had more than two million followers. Its posts, which included photos with captions that read "Islamophobic and Proud" and compared Muslim immigrants to animals, were shared hundreds of thousands of times. Facebook will not allow a replacement page to be created, BBC says.
British Prime Minister Theresa May and London Mayor Sadiq Khan expressed support for Facebook's decision. "Britain First is a vile and hate-fueled group," said Khan in a statement. Britain First found itself in the spotlight last November when President Trump retweeted several of its anti-Muslim videos. Summer Meza