Facebook slammed for ‘spreading Putin’s Propaganda’ in NATO member Slovakia | World News

The flood of posts pushing misinformation in Slovakia has put the spotlight on Facebook to facilitate the spread of pro-Russian ideologies about the war in neighboring Ukraine, from claims that Kiev is secretly developing biological weapons. All.

US lawmakers say the company is not doing enough, while Facebook owner Meta Platforms claims NATO and the European Union member, the Slovakian government, are taking “wider measures to combat the spread of misinformation” in other former Eastern Bloc countries.

The controversy took center stage this week when members of the US House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence called on Meta and its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to facilitate the dangerous spread of pro-Russian information in a country of 5.3 million people.

According to the GLOBSEC Security Think Tank, the intensity of false messages is worse here than in former Communist Central Europe. This has increased support for Putin, who said more than a quarter of Slovaks support his actions, even as the regime in Bratislava seeks to send arms to Kiev to help refugees and protect them.

“The Committee is deeply concerned by the disastrous misinformation and the continued presence of pro-Russian propaganda on Slovak Facebook,” the US delegation, led by President Adam Schiff, wrote to Zuckerberg. He urged the meta to “ensure that all pro-Russian misinformation is quickly evaluated, fact-checked and labeled, degraded or removed in accordance with Facebook’s public pledges and statement policies.”

The committee said the US and Slovak governments have repeatedly asked the Meta to take action against posts containing allegations that Ukrainians are supporting fascism, killing their fellow countrymen and turning millions into fleeing war.

“Half of the population believes in some form of misinformation or conspiracy theories,” said GLOBSEC analyst Dominica Hajdu.

Currently, Meta has only one fact-checker dedicated to Slovakia, where about 2.7 million people, or half of the population, have Facebook accounts, which is the most widely used social-media platform according to a letter from US committee members. . He described staffing levels as “extremely inadequate.”

In a web page provided by Meta identifying fact-checking partners in Slovakia, it listed AFP journalist Robert Barca as the person responsible for Slovakia. The meta said it is consulting governments across the region, and its efforts to address the issue include an array of actions to remove certain content and tag other items with warning labels.

“We are eliminating content that violates our policies and is working with third-party fact-checkers in the area to debunk false claims,” ​​Meta spokeswoman Magdalena Szulk said in an email. “When they rate something wrong, we put this thing down in the feed so fewer people see it. We are giving people more information to decide what to read, believe, and share by adding warning labels on what is rated incorrect.

‘Justifying the crime’

Last year, before Putin invaded Ukraine, the Slovak secret service warned that “the activities of pro-Russian activists are focused on the spread of narratives aimed at the polarization of Slovak society.”

Earlier this week, police briefly arrested former Supreme Court President Stephen Harabin after he posted an item declaring that “Russia must appease the Nazis that killed 15,000 civilians since 2014”, echoing the Kremlin’s narrative. denazify ”Ukraine. Harabin has pleaded guilty to a charge of “pleading guilty”.

“Freedom of speech has never been abused in the history of murder and destruction,” Prime Minister Edward Hager wrote in a Facebook post.

Slovakia is not alone. In February, Poland and the Baltic trio of prime ministers in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania urged executives in charge of Facebook, Google, YouTube and Twitter to “take a stand” against Russian misinformation.

The EU, meanwhile, last month passed legislation that would empower governments to force companies to remove illegal content such as hate speech, terrorist propaganda, or impose fines that could reach 6% of their annual revenues.

In a letter to Zuckerberg, US committee members have requested a briefing on what the Slovak authorities are doing to address concerns, information on any investigations that have led to pro-Russian misinformation and its plans to resolve the issue. He said the meta was accepted.

“The Slovak government has been rightly troubled by these developments,” the members wrote. “A senior Slovak defense official has described Facebook as a ‘key area of ​​Kremlin propaganda.’

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