On May 5, Facebook released a report that includes the supposed (formal) reason for the censorship of SouthFront’s work. In its “April 2020 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report”, Facebook claimed that the big international team authors and experts working under the brand of SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence seeks to “mislead” the audience and exploit the COVID-19 pandemic to do so.
“We know that people looking to mislead others — whether through phishing, scams, or influence operations — try to leverage crises to advance their goals, and the coronavirus pandemic is no different. All of the networks we took down for CIB in April were created before the COVID-19 pandemic began, however, we’ve seen people behind these campaigns opportunistically use coronavirus-related posts among many other topics to build an audience and drive people to their Pages or off-platform sites. The majority of the networks we took down this month were still trying to grow their audience or had a large portion of engagement on their Pages generated by their own accounts.
We removed 46 Pages, 91 Facebook accounts, 2 Groups, and 1 Instagram account. This network posted in Russian, English, German, Spanish, French, Hungarian, Serbian, Georgian, Indonesian and Farsi, focusing on a wide range of regions around the world. Our investigation linked this activity to individuals in Russia, the Donbass region in Ukraine and two media organizations in Crimea — NewsFront and SouthFront. We found this network as part of our internal investigation into suspected coordinated inauthentic behavior in the region,” the report claims.
The claims that SouthFront exploits the COVID-19 pandemic to push some kind of disinformation (misleading coverage) as well as that our international team of authors is based in Crimea are blatant lie. In order to push this claim, the Facebook report put SouthFront near another organization with alike name “News Front”. We took a look at this media and it’s in fact based in Crimea (contrary to SouthFront).
There is no secret in the fact that a few members of SouthFront are from Russia and other post-USSR states. Some of them sometimes visit or spend some time in Crimea, especially in the summer. This does not mean that SouthFront, as an international team of independent authors and experts, is based in Crimea or the SouthFront Steering Committee is located in Crimea. This is a blatant lie and we are ready to prove this in the court.
As to the COVID-19 accusations, apparently, the Facebook report meant 3 articles (of about 3,000 released since the start of 2020) that recently were mentioned by pro-NATO propaganda units. Tomorrow, we will publish a detailed look at these articles and their critique.
In spite of the false claims in the Facebook report, we want to say a big thank you to Mark Zuckerberg and his team for the explanation of the social network’s actions. We hope that other global social platforms and their staff still have at least a little bit of sense, conscience and an objective perception of the reality.
The big team of SouthFront: Analysis & Intelligence