Putin Aide, Apparently Non-Ironically, Gives Facebook A Lecture On Free Speech

from the pots,-kettles,-and-more-pots dept

As everybody knows, Vladimir Putin simply adores free speech. That's made perfectly clear every time a political challenger winds up mysteriously murdered on a Moscow street, or any time his massive, manufactured troll army shouts down those critical of Russian policies on the Internet. It's made repeatedly clear in percussive fashion each and every time an outspoken journalist winds up mysteriously murdered for simply asking questions, and it's abundantly clear from the 10,000 or so websites the Russian government aggressively filters.

Like so many of his international mega-nation contemporaries, free speech is kind of Putin's thing.

So without the slightest whiff of hypocrisy it should be unsurprising for many people to learn that Putin and friends think Facebook's a little heavy handed on the free speech front. Putin aide Igor Shchegolev is urging Russians to abandon Facebook after the social media website deleted a number of posts containing the word "khokhol" -- which in certain context can be used insultingly to suggest Ukranians are backward peasants. This is, says an administration that thinks assassination an acceptable conversation and debate tactic, wholly unacceptable:
"Senior officials are urging their countrymen to abandon Facebook in favor of domestic social media, saying that the latter offer greater freedom of speech, after Mark Zuckerberg’s firm deleted a string of posts containing a slang Russian term for Ukrainians...The news agency ITAR-TASS reported Igor Shchegolev, an aide to President Vladimir Putin as saying that switching to rivals like Vkontakte would help users avoid having their content blocked."
Russia's relationship with Facebook was already strained after the website temporarily suspended the accounts of Kremlin media watchdog Maxim Ksenzov, and pro-Putin writer Eduard Bagirov. Of course that's not to say Facebook isn't equally awful when it comes to free speech. While Facebook says it deletes the word because it can be used as an ethnic slang, "Khokhol" can also be used to describe a specific haircut and isn't always used as an insult. According to the Russian Times, Russians have been having a very good time highlighting the stupidity of Facebook's inconsistent policies:
"Intrigued by the phenomenon, Russian journalists and bloggers began to experiment with testing Facebook's limits, deliberately using the word khokhly in their posts. Last week Facebook issued a one-week block of journalist Maxim Kononenko's page for posting a poem by Alexander Pushkin, a man widely considered to be Russia's greatest poet, containing the word khokhly."
Meanwhile, Russian Facebook equivalent Vkontakte was quick to welcome annoyed users into the fold:
"We're ready to accept all the blocked Facebook users. Welcome! Again :)"


Perhaps Putin's government and Facebook can somehow make up and join forces to create a global super-storm of censorship and incompetence? Imagine the possibilities of somehow combining Facebook's love of overly-curated and blandly-unoffensive walled gardens, with Putin's utterly brutal love of censorship and murder. Surely there's an amazing new business model buried somewhere therein.

Filed Under: free speech, khokhol, russia, surveillance, ukraine, vladimir putin
Companies: facebook, vk, vkontakte


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 15 Jul 2015 @ 8:09am

    Surely there's an amazing new business model buried somewhere therein.

    Kim Jong-un already has a patent on it.

    Still, I'd be ashamed of being rightly lectured by a Russian Govt employee on free speech (even if it is hypocrisy at its best).

    Let the trolling flow!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2015 @ 8:47am

    Not being able to talk about the illegal assassinations and torture that are ongoing in the US and most likely russia from other places in the world should be illegal. These affect peoples day to day lives. If the russians are pissed off they are being assassinated they should be given every form of online support to denegrate the blatant war crimes being committed. I was born right here in the US.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2015 @ 12:40pm

      Re:

      Usually the choice of media is a more determining factor of opinion. Since few mainstream "western media" are concerned with covering what is going on in Ukraine, I would venture a guess on your information sources having some stake in the conflict and having a biased reporting. It could have been awkward reporting, but your choice of words discounts that possibility.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2015 @ 10:45am

    So the Russian government wants people to be able to insult Ukrainians? Isn't that fairly consistent with their behavior towards the Ukraine?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Jul 2015 @ 1:05pm

      Re:

      Since the conflict in Ukraine is so explosive because of the information war going on, I can see why the use of insulting language can cause a very awkward and low quality of discourse.

      The russian government is using propaganda to feed nationalism to improve the effect of propaganda to strenghten nationalism. It is just a spin on a textbook Machiavellian technique drissled with some appropriate Atwater.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Wietze Brandsma (profile), 15 Jul 2015 @ 1:20pm

    Putin is weak.

    Analyses by Vox-journalist Amanda Taub: Putin is weak.
    The Russian strongman is terrified of losing control.
    Long-term strength is being sacrificed for short-term stability.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Sheogorath (profile), 15 Jul 2015 @ 4:42pm

    This fake official is urging all those around the world to abandon Vkontakte in favor of non-Russian social media, saying that the latter offer greater freedom of speech, after Vladimir Putin's government passed laws to prevent teenagers discussing LGBT issues... Just sayin'.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 16 Jul 2015 @ 3:55pm

    Facebook sucks.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown for basic formatting. (HTML is not supported.)
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Close

Add A Reply

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown for basic formatting. (HTML is not supported.)
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Special Affiliate Offer

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.