Ukraine Pleads With Meta to Stop 'Unfair' Blocking of Facebook Posts

Ukraine's digital ministry is asking Meta to stop blocking posts on its social media platforms in order to help the country "tell the truth" about the ongoing war.

In a letter penned to Nick Clegg, the President of Global Policy of the Meta Corporation, Ukraine's Ministry of Statistics requested that Facebook and Instagram cease the moderation of Ukrainian content on Russia's invasion.

"At a time when Russian propaganda remains in the field of view, the posts of the Ukrainian media community have become sensitive content for the world," Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov, who also serves as the digital transformation minister, wrote to Clegg on July 27.

"Social media was created to tell the truth. But we can't do it enough when social media policies are only made for peacetime," Fedorov said. "We understand Meta's hate speech policy, but find it unfair to block accounts and hide posts. We know that Ukraine will win. But with your help, it will happen much faster."

Meta Ukraine Facebook Block
Ukraine is asking for Meta's assistance in opening up its moderation policy to prevent Ukrainian content from being blocked on Facebook and Instagram. In this photo illustration, the Facebook logo is displayed on the screen of an iPhone in front of a Meta logo. Chesnot

In the letter, Fedorov said there was a "new wave of blocking" of Ukrainian bloggers and activists that was preventing people from "spreading the truth about the war" and in effect, hurting both military personnel and civilians on the ground.

He said that while most of the blocking has been on Instagram, there have also been issues on Facebook "from time to time." The vice prime minister added that the volume of complaints recently received by the ministry was enough for Ukraine to believe there is a "scaled problem" with Meta's policy enforcement.

In its request, Ukraine asked Meta to "open the rules" on its moderating and that the company shares a list of the prohibited words that are triggering certain posts to be blocked by the system. The ministry argued that meeting its demands would "avoid mass blocking" of Ukrainian content for Ukrainian users.

"We count on you to share and discuss our opinion with the team that is developing Meta's Community Standards that punishing people for using words from [an] unpublic list that Meta developed without consulting with local linguistic institutions and language experts and never shared externally is too far reaching," Fedorov wrote.

The request from Ukraine is the latest development in the country's relationship with Meta, which has taken a pro-Ukraine stance since the war began on February 24.

In March, the company was forced to amend its moderation policy after it allowed users to call for violence against Russian soldiers on its platforms.

Following Russia's move to ban Instagram over those threats, Meta announced it would narrow its focus "to make it explicitly clear in the guidance that it is never to be interpreted as condoning violence against Russians in general."

The Instagram ban effectively blocked 80 million users in Russia from the social media platform.

Newsweek reached out to Meta for comment.