May 19, 2015
Ekaterina Neroznikova, Marina Boltachev
Translated by Kristina Rus
Poroshenko’s attempt to blame Mark Zuckerberg for working for Russia miserably failed. The founder of Facebook has conveyed to tens of thousands of Ukrainians, including the President himself, a well-known fact that the social network has no presence in Russia. And there are sufficient reasons to delete messages of Ukrainian users, because they don’t shy away even from open calls to murder.
There will be no Facebook office in Ukraine in the near future. Moreover, there has never been one in Russia, which was reminded by Mark Zuckerberg himself. This is what he responded to the criticism from Ukrainian Facebook users, disappointing with blocking of their [hate] content.
“Zuckerberg has demonstrated to a significant part of the population of Ukraine, what is law”
Zuckerberg will not call
Last Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg held a Q&A session with Facebook users. The choice fell on a question which gained the most “likes”. The winner was a Ukrainian question asking if the Ukrainian segment is moderated from a Russian office. The question was asked by Gregory Kupershmidt, who proposed to create a separate administration for the monitoring of the Ukrainian segment of the social network. According to him, the Ukrainian Facebook accounts are blocked by “fake reports about the violation of Facebook policies”. These complaints, in his opinion, come from the Russian Facebook segment and relate to messages about the conflict in Ukraine.
The post gathered 48 thousand comments and has already become the most popular ever asked of the founder of Facebook. The proposal was supported at the very highest level – even President Petro Poroshenko gave his “like”. However, the response of Zuckerberg has destroyed all the arguments of the Ukrainian side.
“There were questions, whether posts, written by Ukrainians are moderated by the Russians, while a conflict continues between Ukraine and Russia. This is not true – we don’t have such Russian office. So anyone who thinks that moderation comes from the Russian office by the anti-Ukrainian moderators, is wrong,” – assured Zuckerberg. All moderation is carried out by the staff in Dublin, who speak the language, reports “Interfax”. Zuckerberg also added that the company does not have a large number of offices and employees are not at all “scattered around the world.”
He added that he personally looked at those posts that have been blocked for inappropriate content. Zuckerberg explained that, indeed, Ukrainians posted several messages containing “hate speech” against other nationalities. This is contrary to Facebook code of conduct. “Unfortunately, there are several posts that violated this rule. People complained, and we inspected these reports and determined that some of these messages contain offensive language against some Russians, and we removed them, ” – explained Zuckerberg. – “We cannot approve content that contains open aggression, ethnic insults or calls for violence,” – he reminded the Ukrainians the rules of conduct of the social network which anyone can access.
Facebook office in Ukraine may appear only in case it will be necessary for development of the company, Zuckerberg assured the Ukrainian President. This answer was addressed personally to Poroshenko, who addressed Zuckerberg from his page, writing that “the country needs a Ukrainian Facebook office”.
Poroshenko presented Zuckerberg’s statement almost as another diplomatic victory. “We started a dialogue with the headquarters of FB” – he wrote on Facebook. – ” The prospect of opening the Ukrainian office of Facebook is very important”, said Poroshenko. “The opening of offices of international companies in Ukraine is a priority for our state!” – he reported, and added: “I believe that all international companies must open offices in Ukraine.”
Poroshenko’s address to Zuckerberg was appreciated by a well-known journalist Anatoly Shary. “We have a cool President! Can’t imagine another head of state, who will ask something from the owner of a social network. It’s very cool. I am so proud. Taking the opportunity, could we ask for a couple of Burger Kings too?” – he wrote on Facebook. He offered to start a campaign “Poroshenko, ask!”, to advise the president to ask others to open something in Ukraine.
Note that Shary personally checked the productivity of Facebook moderators. On his request on April 22, the account of the adviser to the head of the Security Service of Ukraine, Anatoly Gerashchenko, was blocked. “In connection with my appeal to EU law-enforcement structures the page of pan adviser was deleted. He will be asked some interesting questions, and he will have to make some explanations”, – Shary wrote on his page. – “It’s possible that we will see pan adviser on Facebook again. But I would advise him to understand everything correctly. Croak in your own swamp. That’s were you are only allowed to croak,” – added Shary. Gerashchenko account was indeed unlocked after some time.
To inquire whether there is a Facebook office in Russia, before making a fool of himself, Poroshenko was “prevented by a colossal confidence that the crowd, as they are used to in Ukraine, can solve any issue,” – said Anatoly Shary. “They thought that they will come with their heard of 50 thousand people and will smother Mark’s wall with photos of some Cossacks, their fighters, their flags and thus will have an influence on him. They were absolutely sure”, – he said to the newspaper Vzglyad. – “Poroshenko, not interested in learning why a picture was blocked, and what was the caption under the photo, thought “I am Poroshenko! I’m the President of Ukraine! They will for sure now respond and open an office, why not? And then Mark just put him in his place”, – said Shary.
In his opinion, the answer of Zuckerberg to Poroshenko – “was like a holiday”. “Mark Zuckerberg has demonstrated to a significant part of the population of Ukraine, what is the law. That he doesn’t care who addresses him – the President, or 50 thousand, 100 thousand, a million. There is a law,” – said Ukrainian journalist. No less interesting is the response to the request of Poroshenko about the office, he added. “Everyone is laughing. Poroshenko has not been put down like this in his rapid career,” – said Shary.
By the way, the campaign “Poroshenko, ask!”, organized by Shary is going well. According to the journalist, it gained a lot of “likes”. “I did not insult anyone. It’s a proposal: if you’re such a beggar – beg for something else. But it is interesting to read comments from Ukrainian users: there is total profanity, curses and death wishes. For a year these people are used to communicate like that, and this is not normal, – said Shary. – The fact that they received such a slap in the face, and the whole world now knows that Ukrainians speak the language of hatred, should really sober them up”.
Shary suggested to those offended, like Kupersmidt, to use their old tactics when Ukraine banned Russian channels. “Similarly, you can boycott Facebook. If these arrogant creatures who constantly write “Kill, kill!” and post corpses, leave Facebook, it will only benefit from this”, – said Shary.
A reason to block
When Petro Poroshenko asked Mark Zuckerberg to open a Facebook office in Ukraine, he was probably thinking about how to save thousands of Ukrainian Facebook users from anticipated blocking, in accordance with Facebook rules. Among these users is the above-mentioned Anatoly Gerashchenko, and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov who are not stingy with offensive words in their posts. However, ordinary Ukrainian users do not stop at calling for assassinations of people whom they call “colorados” and “separatists”.
“Colorado mobs were liquidated,” – wrote, for example, after the tragedy at Odessa House of Trade Unions a PM Lesya Orobets. Also those killed on May 2, 2014 in Odessa were called “a smoked hundred” (similar to “heavenly hundred”, shot on Maidan). Especially popular among Ukrainian Internet users are phrases such as “fried colorados”. Facebook is constantly updated with photos of people killed in Donbass, and captions to these photos make any mentally healthy person shudder.