Facebook blocks pages of Russian RT television

The headquarters of RT in Moscow (illustration). – Yuri KADOBNOV / AFP

The Russian TV channel RT protested Monday after Facebook blocked some of its pages, including one with several million subscribers, the Kremlin equating the social network with a "pressure tool" Washington.

Several pages of this Russian-funded channel, including the popular "In the Now", specializing in viral videos, were inaccessible on Facebook on Monday. "We had a side project in English, In the Now. The project was successful: 2.5 billion views and 4 million subscribers just on Facebook! "RT's editor-in-chief Margarita Simonian said on Twitter.

"In the Now", also featured on YouTube, broadcast on Facebook both emotionally charged content – videos of street dogs, for example – and political videos, in the form of an in-depth "analysis" of the news, with an anti-American prism.

Users "should not be cheated on those behind"

Facebook has justified this blocking by its policy of informing users about the origins of certain content shared on the platform. "People who consult" pages "(chains) should not be deceived about the identity of those behind," said the social network to AFP. "As we have stepped up our action against fake accounts and spam for a year now, we will continue to improve how people receive more information on the pages they subscribe to. "

According to Margarita Simonian, the blocking by Facebook follows a CNN issue in which the channel explains that the RT project is funded by the Russian state. "Facebook immediately blocked us! Without providing any charges, "she added, claiming the channel had" broken no rules ".

The Kremlin demands an "explanation"

The social network told AFP that it has launched a multi-step update for "pages" that have "important" audiences, to include information about the main countries from which these pages are managed. "Since this feature is not yet activated everywhere, we will contact the administrators of these pages to provide this additional information, as well as their affiliation with their parent company, before returning to the platform", said the group.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said RT must "receive an explanation from Facebook about the exact reason" for the blockage. "Many big companies that provide services related to social networks or other internet formats are being used by the governments of unfriendly countries as a tool of pressure on the Russian media," said Dmitry Peskov.