Facebook has suspended a number of accounts linked to Maffick Media following a report by CNN claimed the group is secretly linked with the Russian government. Maffick Media is based in Germany, and while it is partly owned by a Russian subsidiary, the company says it has full editorial independence.
CNN noted Maffick’s part-ownership by Ruptly, a Russian state media subsidiary, and accused them of not disclosing this ownership on Facebook, even though Facebook had never required any such disclosure, and no one is even accusing Maffick of spreading any disinformation on the pages.
Public documents show Maffick is 51% owned by Ruptly, a Germany-based news agency which is itself owned by Russia’s state television station RT.
Despite this, Facebook responded to the CNN report by taking down Maffick’s pages, accusing them of misleading the public “about who’s behind them,” and that in the future they will ask these pages to disclose “their Russian affiliations.”
Again, no requests were made to Maffick to offer such disclosures on their pages before censoring them, and Facebook’s policy never required them to make such disclosures in the first place. Maffick’s Russia ties were never actually secret, the company notes, and indeed the CNN confirmed the ties with publicly available data.
CNN says that the publicly available fact was pointed out to them by the German Marshall Fund, which is itself funded by NATO and the US State Department. Rania Khalek, one of the Maffick employees interviewed by CNN, says the CNN interviewer “didn’t like my anti war poltiical views, even attacked my criticism of Trump’s coup in Venezuela.”
That puts what happened to Maffick is a much less comfortable light. The German Marshall Fund, which again is funded by the US government and NATO, solicited a report from CNN portraying this increasingly popular alternative media outlet as secretly Russian, and Facebook more or less instantly and outright censored them.
The big question then is whether the German Marshall Fund’s decision to set all of this in motion was really the result of someone finally noticing public data on its ownership, or rather the sites’ growing popularity and unfriendly coverage of US and NATO policies.
This becomes a glaring issue when one notices that Facebook’s previous takedowns related to “Russian propaganda” were similarly provoked almost exclusively by the German Marshall Fund, and also included sites focused heavily on anti-war and anti-interventionist narratives.
Maffick CEO Anissa Naouai said that the Facebook move was blatant censorship, and that despite Facebook’s public comments suggesting it was about increased disclosures, they have not responded to Maffick company emails for three solid days, giving no indication that they’re ever going to be allowed back on the social media site.