With representatives of Meta, the Chancellor of the Government discussed the problematic issues of moderation of social networks against the background of Russia's war against Ukraine


2023 02 13


On Monday, February 13, Chancellor of the Government Giedrė Balčytytė, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mantas Adomėnas and Deputy Minister of Communications Agnė Vaiciukevičiūtė met at the Government House with a delegation of Meta company representatives to discuss the issues of content moderation and blocking of accounts on the Facebook social network in the context of Russia's war in Ukraine and further bilateral cooperation.

"Russia's war against Ukraine did not leave Lithuania indifferent, so Facebook's content moderation policy is relevant for many people, for whom the social network has become a platform for daily information sharing, expression of opinion and civic engagement. Since the full-scale Russian military invasion began nearly a year ago, Facebook users have repeatedly faced blocking of content and accounts that do not take into account linguistic context and the shocking reality of war. Because in an outburst of emotions, according to Facebook, one cannot call for the violent destruction of the Kremlin or violent revenge on Russian soldiers, one cannot humiliate them with curses and send curses. Such sterilization of language favors Russia, it normalizes the war, washes away responsibility and becomes a silent support for the false narrative spread by the aggressor - it starts to seem that there is neither a brutal war nor the crimes of the Russian army in Ukraine," said Chancellor of the Government G. Balčytytė.

Last year, the Government Chancellery initiated a dialogue with the Meta company due to noticeable content filtering and blocking of authors expressing support for Ukraine, publicizing the war waged by Russia and its crimes.

Monday's meeting noted that social media users, including popular opinion leaders who comment on the actions of the Russian political leadership or the Russian military, are often blocked for words and expressions that Facebook treats as offensive, despite their common and well-established use. traditions in the Lithuanian language. At the meeting, expectations were expressed for changes in Facebook's content moderation policy that take into account the context of culture and language, and the possibility of consulting Lithuanian language supervisory institutions with expert competences. Facebook informed the government that one word has been already removed from Meta’s Lithuanian slurs list. The Lithuanian Language Institute was part of the consultations.

It was also discussed at the meeting that blocking the posts and accounts of influential opinion makers writing on war topics without the possibility of correcting the content of the messages, unreasonably limits the expression of opinion and public debate, and in some cases also civil initiatives, such as victims' collection campaigns for victims in Ukraine. The company offered to hold closed-door training sessions with these user groups to go into the details of content management policies, the goals being to to provide every opportunity to create posts that do not violate them.

The representatives of the Meta delegation drew attention to the fact that Facebook's protected groups policy treats "Russian soldiers" in the same way as "Ukrainian soldiers". Therefore, very harsh language used in relation to "Russian soldiers" is not allowed on the platform. The policy of protected groups is undoubtedly meaningful and important in relation to religious, national minorities or vulnerable groups of society, noted the Chancellor of the Government G. Balchytytė, but in this context it is not only unreasonable, but also harmful.

Meta representatives assured that the importance of the war context in content management and the possible changes we talked about during the consent will be conveyed to the top management of the company.

In order to find systemic solutions to prevent blocking of accounts and removal of posts, the Government Office together with the team started collecting examples of user-indicated restrictions on the dissemination of messages and blocking of authors. In a meeting with Facebook representatives, these trending cases were presented in more detail.