Facebook Shuts Russian-Backed Outlet, But What About Al Jazeera, BBC?

February 21st, 2019 3:00 PM

Facebook is willing to take down pages funded by Russia. Now it’s facing the question about what to do about other state-funded media outlets like Al Jazeera, BBC and even NPR?

Facebook suspended three pages on February 15 , including the popular video site Ruptly. All three allegedly failed to disclose that they were backed by RT, which is funded by the Russian government. CNN reported that Facebook would restore the pages if they made public the organization they were affiliated with. While the pages did not include this information initially, they were not required to at the time.

But Ruptly isn’t the only foreign-backed media outlet on the platform. Al Jazeera is funded by Qatar, the BBC by the UK and NPR, PBS and VOA are all funded by the United States, to name just a few.

Facebook told the Media Research Center, “People connecting with Pages shouldn’t be misled about who’s behind them. Just as we’ve stepped up our enforcement of coordinated inauthentic behavior and financially motivated spam over the past year, we’ll continue improving so people can get more information about the Pages they follow. For example, we’re now rolling out in phases an update to Pages with large audiences to include information about the primary countries they’re managed from.”

The Facebook spokesperson continued, “Since this feature isn't live yet for all, we’ll be reaching out to admins of these Pages to ask that they disclose this additional information and their affiliation with their parent company to get back on the platform.”

This leaves the question, however, about all popular state-sponsored media. Al Jazeera has been criticized for its anti-American, anti-Semitic stance towards many different news issues. Al Jazeera was even used by the Qatari government to threaten and defame individuals who fall afoul of the regime. Qatar itself has recently been accused by The Washington Post of helping push propaganda through its opinion pages.

The BBC is funded by the United Kingdom, which has a special fund from Parliament.

Even in the United States, NPR is funded by two different government bureaucracies. Will Facebook start asking these news outlets to disclose their affiliations with state actors publicly?