Why posts on Ukraine mass killings were briefly blocked on social media

Published on Apr 05, 2022 12:05 PM IST

Meta platforms Facebook and Instagram allow graphic and violent content when it is shared for spreading awareness, but deletes any content that is extremely explicit.

Bodies lie in a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)(AP)
Bodies lie in a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)(AP)
By | Written by Manjiri Sachin Chitre | Edited by Swati Bhasin

The growing outrage on Ukraine mass killings was first palpable on social media as images of bodies strewn across streets emerged from Ukraine's Bucha town near the capital city of Kyiv. But some posts - with hashtags #bucha, #buchamassacre linked to the civilian killings - were briefly blocked on Meta-owned platforms, including Facebook and Instagram. A day after some social media users flagged the blocked hashtags, Meta spokesperson Andy Stone clarified that the automated systems that scan for “violent imagery” were responsible for the blocking.

"This happened automatically because of the graphic content people posted using these hashtags. When we were made aware of the issue yesterday, we acted quickly to unblock the hashtags," Andy Stone tweeted in response to a tweet.

Meta platforms Facebook and Instagram allow graphic and violent content when it is shared for spreading awareness, but deletes any content that is extremely explicit. The platforms also add warnings to some graphic content that the users have to click on as ‘permission’ to allow viewing. Several images of bodies shoved in mass graves, lying on streets with their hands tied, emerged on social media.

Also read: 'India's Russia energy imports only 1-2% but…': US's latest amid Ukraine war

While Ukraine has accused Russia of the mass killings, Russia denied the war-torn country's allegations. Russia described the footage and photographs of dead bodies as a "provocation" and a "staged performance" by Kyiv. "All the photos and videos published by the Kyiv regime, allegedly testifying to the 'crimes' of Russian servicemen in the city of Bucha, Kyiv region, are another provocation," Russia's defence ministry said in a statement.

The mass killings have sparked a global outrage. UN Secretary-General Anotnio Guterres on Sunday called for an independent investigation into the incident. Saying that he is “deeply shocked” by the images of the mass killings, Guterres wrote on Twitter, “I am deeply shocked by the images of civilians killed in Bucha, Ukraine. It is essential that an independent investigation leads to effective accountability.”

Meanwhile, several western countries have already imposed heavy sanctions on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine.

US president Joe Biden has yet again called Russia's Vladimir Putin a "war criminal".

 

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