The relationship between Russia and the U.S. is often marked by tense moments. This week, it has taken yet another extreme turn as Facebook and Twitter announced they will remove posts from the Russian Embassy accounts on their respective platforms. This has caused many people to ask why these two social media giants have taken such a drastic action against a foreign nation’s embassy accounts.
To better understand the situation, let’s look at:
- What Facebook and Twitter have said about why they took this step,
- What kind of content Russian Embassy accounts are posting,
- How this could impact U.S.-Russia relations, and more.
By understanding the context behind both companies’ decisions to remove these posts, we can gain insight into their current policies and the implications for international relations going forward.
Facebook and Twitter remove Russian embassy posts
In 2019, Facebook and Twitter took action to remove posts from the Russian Embassy in the United States. According to a statement from Facebook, these posts violated the platform’s policies regarding foreign interference in U.S. elections. This action was taken to protect the integrity of the U.S. elections and to limit any potential attempts at foreign interference.
This section will explain why Facebook and Twitter removed Russian Embassy posts.
The Russian Embassy uses various social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, to spread political messages and fuel online debates. Recently, however, posts from the Russian Embassy have been removed from both social media platforms.
Initially, it was unclear why these posts were being removed, but upon further investigation it was revealed that the posts contained inaccurate or manipulated information about various political topics. In response to the removal of these posts by Facebook and Twitter, Russia accused the United States of censorship following what they believed to be biassed decisions made by the two companies against them.
Although Facebook released a statement noting that this action was taken to combat disinformation campaigns often associated with foreign governments on their platform – which generally involves deception or manipulation of data – Twitter has remained silent on this matter.
This has led some people to speculate that this could be a sign of US government interference in what is supposed to be an unbiased platform for citizens worldwide to freely express themselves without discrimination.
Recent posts by Russian Embassy
Recently, Facebook and Twitter have removed posts from Russian diplomatic accounts that officials say contain false or misleading information. This is the latest example of social media companies taking action to clamp down on what they believe to be foreign interference in the United States’ domestic political matters, as well as other topics of global importance.
The removed posts related to a tweet sent out by an official account under the name “Russia in USA” earlier this month. The tweet suggested that a group of people protesting outside the Russian Embassy in Washington DC were members of the U.S. military, which was later determined to be false. Other similar posts were published across the social media platforms, including Instagram and YouTube. Still, these were only taken down after they had been viewed hundreds or even thousands of times by users worldwide.
In addition to removing this particular message and other similarly-themed content, Facebook and Twitter have made policy changes designed to crack down on activities like this in the future by increasing lack off transparency for state-backed accounts and adding more warnings about foreign influence operations on their platforms. The companies are also working to define what constitutes legitimate news sources to better serve their users with reliable information from trustworthy and objective sources.
Reasons for Removal
Facebook and Twitter recently removed posts by the Russian Embassy in the US and the UK. This is due to the posts promoting a false narrative about racial protests and the US presidential election. In this article, we will look at why Facebook and Twitter removed the posts by the Russian Embassy.
Facebook and Twitter policies
Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter have terms and conditions that individuals must abide by to use the sites. Two of these policies are Community Standards and Terms of Service.
The Community Standards set limits on posted content, including language, nudity, violence, hate speech and any content promoting terrorism or other harmful activities. In addition, the Terms of Service restrict the use of content that is not authentic or violates intellectual property rights.
Facebook enforced its Community Standards concerning posts made by the Russian Embassy in October 2019. According to Facebook, certain videos posted by the Russian Embassy violated the company’s prohibition against posting information that is “dangerous or derogatory”. This includes any content geared toward promoting violence or hatred against individuals or groups based on their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender identification.
Twitter followed suit with similar restrictions against posts from the Russian Embassy in response to several tweets that included language considered “abusive”. In particular, Twitter has a policy prohibiting tweets which target individuals with “hateful conduct” or attacks them based on religion, national origin and other attributes like sexual orientation and gender identity.
Violation of US sanctions
US social media companies have removed several posts from Russian embassies on their sites after they violated US sanctions. These posts contained pictures and videos of diplomatic visits to areas where US sanctions are in place, including Syria and Crimea.
The US Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) accused the embassies of violating the sanctions when they published these posts as it promoted products, services and activities subject to US economic sanctions. The OFAC said that the social media accounts had been blocked and any material or financial value associated with those accounts would be frozen bi-directionally.
The OFAC further warned social media companies to comply with all applicable laws, rules and regulations related to US economic sanctions programs or face possible criminal or civil penalties. The OFAC also highlighted its commitment to protecting Americans from illicit state-sponsored activities, noting that it closely monitors all access to sanctioned areas on Facebook and Twitter for evidence of potential violations in terms of OFAC’s rule enforcement or adherence with its policies.
These actions by the OFAC demonstrate a clear warning that companies using social media must adhere not only to legal requirements but also their overall corporate responsibility and ethics system when participating in the digital realm. For instance, Google recently suspended Internet Research Agency accounts – one directly linked to the Russian government – due to perceived influence campaigns being carried out on its platform without authorization since 2017.
Potential interference in US elections
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are facing growing pressure to remove content that has the potential to interfere in US elections. According to reports, both platforms recently removed posts from accounts affiliated with the Russian Embassy in Washington, DC which appeared to be spreading links related to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Facebook had already removed several hundred accounts earlier this year which it claimed were connected with the Internet Research Agency – a Russian-based group that US officials found had used social media networks and other online channels to spread disinformation during the 2016 Presidential Election. Twitter followed suit, claiming that some users may have been exposed to similar interference tactics while browsing their timelines.
The removed posts from the Russian Embassy were mainly related to the efficacy of different vaccines, treatments and medical advice on how best to avoid or treat Covid-19. However, they also highlighted potential conspiracies about how countries used the pandemic for political gain or to distract attention away from other topics.
The removal of these posts comes when US intelligence agencies allege Russia is again attempting to interfere in the US election process by sowing discord on social media platforms and engaging in other cyber-espionage activities. As a result, platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have taken proactive steps by ramping up their efforts to identify suspicious accounts and curb activity that could be used for propaganda or political interference – particularly ahead of major elections in November 2020.
Impact of Removal
The recent removal of posts from the Russian Embassy by Facebook and Twitter has generated a lot of controversy within the tech world. This decision was made to stop the spread of false information that was believed to be coming from the Russian Embassy.
This section will discuss the impact of this decision on how people interact with these two social media platforms:
Repercussions on US-Russia relations
The move by social media giants Facebook and Twitter to restrict and remove posts from the Russian embassy highlights the ongoing tensions between the United States and Russia. Moreover, it is a reminder that tensions between these two powers have steadily risen in recent years.
In particular, there have been increasing calls from the US government to punish Russia for its alleged interference in US elections. This has included sanctions on individuals and entities, visa restrictions, and other measures designed to pressure Moscow into changing its behaviour.
The removal of the Russian embassy posts can be seen as part of this push by Washington. Taking action against a perceived pro-Kremlin element on social media sends a clear signal to Moscow that it will not tolerate disinformation campaigns or attempts at manipulating public opinion. Furthermore, it sets an example that other countries should follow if they encounter similar situations in their backyards.
Ultimately, these developments indicate an increasingly strained relationship between Russia and the United States. Moreover, removing posts from the Russian embassy is yet another sign of escalating tensions, indicating that things may become even more tense unless one or both sides begin to de-escalate the situation soon.
The decision by Facebook and Twitter to remove posts by the Russian Embassy has had a ripple effect across other social media platforms, as companies reevaluated their moderation policies for posts referencing major geopolitical events. Platforms such as Instagram, Reddit, and YouTube have changed to address potentially controversial content about current events in the past week.
Instagram changed its Community Guidelines and stated it will no longer allow anyone on their platform “to depict credible threats or organised violence”. Reddit recently updated its policy and stated they will take down content that incites violence or harms community members. For YouTube, they will take down videos violating their policy covering violence or incitement. These changes come when social media companies are under increasing pressure to control the spread of misinformation and inflammatory rhetoric on their platforms.
Facebook and Twitter have mentioned previously that they do not allow posts that incite violence, including those from verified accounts like the Russian Embassy’s. This move was particularly significant given Russia’s global influence and presence in international affairs. By showing their intolerance of inflammatory rhetoric from these accounts, these two leading social media companies set an example for other networks going forward with similar requests for moderation of online discourse.
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