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Russia: Facebook blocks event page for opposition leader rally at govt. request

Author: Andrew Roth & David M. Herszenhorn, The New York Times, Published on:

"Facebook page goes dark, angering Russia dissidents", 22 December 2014

…A decision by Facebook to block a page used to rally Russian opponents of President Vladimir V. Putin has engulfed the world’s largest social networking site in political controversy and raised accusations that it censors content on behalf of the authorities here. Facebook over the weekend removed an event page promoting a Jan. 15 demonstration near the walls of the Kremlin in support of Aleksei A. Navalny, a leading opposition figure. The page had gathered more than 12,000 prospective attendees before it was blocked at the request of the Russian government’s Internet monitor, Roskomnadzor. Mr. Navalny…has been under house arrest since February. He faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted in a pending criminal case…Vadim Ampelonsky, a spokesman for Roskomnadzor, said…Facebook had deleted the demonstration page because it called for an “unsanctioned mass event,” which can apply to any public event with three or more people. Supporters of Mr. Navalny accused Facebook of yielding too quickly to government pressure…A spokeswoman [for Facebook] declined to comment, saying the company did not discuss specific blocking cases…In the first six months of 2014, Facebook said it granted 29 blocking requests in Russia…The Kremlin’s increasingly aggressive efforts to control social media…seem to have made Russia the immediate testing ground for Facebook’s most complicated questions about balancing user rights, government demands and the quest for profit for shareholders. 

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