Ukraine Crisis: Facebook-Parent Meta Briefly Restricts Bucha-Related Hashtags

Facebook owner Meta has briefly narrowed down the hashtags related to civilian deaths in northern Ukraine, where the bodies of people shot were found near a town returning from Russian forces, a company spokesman confirmed Monday.

The assassination of Boucha outside Kiev has prompted further sanctions against Moscow from the West.

Meta spokesman Andy Stone said the automated system, which scans for violent images on Facebook and Instagram, is also responsible for blocking company hashtags, including owner, #bucha and #buchamasakar.

“This happened automatically because of the graphic content that people posted using these hashtags. When we became aware of the problem yesterday, we took quick steps to unblock the hashtags,” he wrote on Twitter.

Facebook and Instagram allow the posting of graphic and violent content when it is shared to raise awareness of potential human rights violations, but delete the content if it is too explicit or celebrates harassment.

Social media companies add warning labels to some graphic posts that users must click before viewing images.

Human rights groups have criticized Meter’s approach to removing violent content during conflicts, saying the practice of purging data from its servers 90 days later has resulted in the removal of critical evidence of war crimes.

Stone said Meta was “looking for ways to preserve this and other materials when we removed it,” especially in relation to the Ukraine war.

Russia has denied any involvement in the killings.

Thomson Reuters 2022

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