Facebook, Zuckerberg Bow to Putin, Block Russian Facebook Page Organizing Protest
Facebook has blocked access to a page calling for a protest at the site and time a prominent opposition politician will be sentenced on politically motivated criminal charges.
The Telegraph reports that the page was blocked to honor a request made by the Russian government.
The Facebook page called for a rally to be held on Jan. 15. On that day, Alexi Navalny, a prominent politician who got his start as an anti-corruption blogger, will be sentenced on fraud charges. His brother Oleg is also being charged. They could face ten and eight years in jail, respectively.
Navalny has been a problem for the government of Vladimir Putin since organizing large demonstrations in 2011 and 2012, according to The Telegraph. In 2013, Navalny ran for mayor of Moscow, winning 27 percent of the vote.
At the time Facebook blocked the page, 12,000 people said they would attend. The Telegraph reports that an activist associated with the page expressed deep disappointment that Facebook did not even try to keep the page up through some sort of legal action.
Russia has one of the most strictly regulated internets in the world. Bloggers with 3,000 or more followers must register with the government.
In the first half of the year, Facebook has blocked 29 pages and profiles that have called for democratic action.
Although this was not the first time Facebook has stifled Russian voices and democracy, Navalny is well known internationally, and the US ambassador to Russia called for Facebook to reverse its decision and make the page available.
The Telegraph reports that a second page for the rally was created after the first was taken down. News of the Facebook censorship must have energized the Russian people, as the new page had 17,000 attendees less than a day after it was created.