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Facebook declines to say why it deletes certain political accounts, but not others

Published: January 4, 2018
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Source: The Guardian

Facebook is declining to say why it appears to be picking and choosing political leaders to censor at the request of the US government after it deleted the social media accounts of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

The Silicon Valley technology company deleted Kadyrov’s Instagram and Facebook profiles after the United States imposed travel and economic sanctions on him over allegations of human rights abuses. Facebook told the New York Times that it had a “legal obligation” to disable his accounts once they confirmed they were run by someone on a US sanctions list.

That legal obligation did not appear to extend to other key individuals on US sanctions lists, including Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and Guatemalan congressman Julio Antonio Juárez.

Facebook declined to explain why it had deleted some accounts but not others under US sanctions law. A company spokeswoman told the Guardian: “We operate under the constraints of US laws, which vary by circumstance.”

“We will continue to work with appropriate government authorities to ensure we meet our legal obligations and to explore options for complying with the law in a way that maximises free expression on our platform and keeps people safe.”

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