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Russia struggles to maintain straight face while asking why Facebook banned fake Russian accounts

Published Apr 18th, 2018 3:32PM EDT
Facebook Ban Russia
Image: Ohde Christian/action press/REX/Shutterstock

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Roskomnadzor, which actually not Skynet’s Soviet cousin but rather the Russian telecoms regulator, made the news earlier this week thanks to the ban on Telegram in the country. Russia went as far as to ban Google and Amazon cloud IPs to stop Telegram from working, as well as to urge Apple and Google to remove the app from their app stores.

But Roskomnadzor isn’t done, and the next target might be Facebook. What’s ironic about the whole thing is that the agency wants Facebook to explain why it has banned various fake Russian accounts and pages on the social network.

Facebook has taken such measures against Russian-based trolls linked to the Internet Research Agency, the company announced in early April.

These IRA accounts were fake and were created to influence Russian users. Facebook has also determined hat IRA-linked accounts tried to manipulate public opinion in the US and Europe. In the past, the social network also concluded that Russian money did pay for advertising on Facebook during the US presidential campaign two years ago.

Intelligence agencies in the US have determined that Russia meddled in the US elections with the help of fake news that went viral on social networks including Facebook. Facebook acknowledged the problem soon after saying it’s improbable to have happened.

With all that in mind, let’s get back to Roskomnadzor’s request. Per Business Insider the regulator has a bunch of requests for Facebook. For starters, the company has to move the Russian user database to Russia, which it failed to do so far.

Then, the company needs to remove “all illegal content” from the site, although it’s not clear what that entails.

Finally, it has to explain why some Russian accounts have been deleted. Well, the Roskomnadzor should check with Putin & Friends to find out the answer to that one. It’s really easy. If not, maybe this Mark Zuckerberg post could come in handy. It’s got some really insightful remarks, like this one:

After 2016, we found that the Russian IRA had set up a network of hundreds of fake accounts to spread divisive content and interfere in the US presidential election. We began investigating their activity globally and taking down their pages and accounts.

On the other hand, Russia has maintained all this time that it did not interfere with the US election in any way. Therefore, fake Russian IRA accounts should not exist, should they?

If Facebook doesn’t comply, it risks being banned in the country. On the other hand, if the watchdog does ban Facebook access in Russia, then how will Russian intelligence agencies access the social network for manipulation and sabotage purposes? Allegedly, I mean.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.