Facebook Suspended Misleading Pages from Russian State Channel

Facebook has suspended three popular video channels that were focused on US millennials. The pages appeared to be funded by the Russian state channel RT, CNN reports.

It is about three pages that have been on Facebook since September. Videos on the pages were viewed tens of millions of times.

The pages are managed by Maffick Media, and a company registered in Germany with Ruptly as the largest shareholder. That company has as its biggest lender the Russian TV channel RT, which is financed by the Russian government.

The pages did not mention these Russian links, but strictly speaking, they were not necessary according to the regulations of Facebook. The pages were filled by freelance employees from Los Angeles in the US.

“People who follow pages on Facebook should not be misled about who is behind it,” says a spokesperson for Facebook. “Just like last year, we continue to improve our approach to coordinated misleading behaviour and financially motivated spam.”

Maffick says to CNN that the company is editorially independent of Russian state channel RT and that it is common not to reveal who pays a Facebook page. “The general public is not interested,” said Maffick head J. Ray Sparks.

According to CNN, the videos of the suspended pages were critical of US foreign policy, and little critical of the Russian government.

Facebook previously suspended pages several times because they were related to the Russian government, via state channels or the famous troll factory Internet Research Agency.

In January, for example, several pages of Facebook and Instagram were removed due to misleading behaviour. The pages were managed by employees of the Russian state broadcaster Sputnik, who did not make that known to his followers and visitors.

These pages presented themselves as independent news pages or as pages on everyday topics, such as weather, sports, economy and politics.

The now-suspended pages of Maffick did the same. The Soapbox page focuses on news, the Waste-Ed page on the environment and Back then is a history channel that revolves around “Western imperialism”.

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