Facebook, Google rebuff Russia over political advertising accusation

Russia’s state communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said both Google and Facebook had circulated political advertising during Sunday’s voting despite a ban on such publicity. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2019

Facebook, Google rebuff Russia over political advertising accusation

  • State communications watchdog Roskomnadzor said both Google and Facebook had circulated political advertising

MOSCOW: Google said on Monday that it supported responsible political advertising that complies with local legislation, after Russia accused it of circulating such advertising during local elections at the weekend.

The tech giant neither affirmed nor denied in a statement that it had disseminated any such advertising.

The state communications watchdog said Google and Facebook had circulated political advertising during the polls, which it said could be seen as interference.

“We support responsible political advertising and expect that it has to comply with local legislative demands including the laws on elections and voting rights and mandatory ‘election silence’ for any geographical areas where such advertising is oriented,” Google said in a statement.

Facebook said on Monday that advertisers, and not the company itself, were responsible for complying with local election laws.

Local and regional elections were held on Sunday in an array of Russian regions. In Moscow, the ruling United Russia party, which supports President Vladimir Putin, lost a slew of seats in the city parliament, RIA news agency reported on Monday.


Social media app TikTok removes Daesh propaganda videos

Updated 22 October 2019

Social media app TikTok removes Daesh propaganda videos

  • An employee at TikTok told AFP that about 10 accounts were removed for posting the videos
  • The videos featured corpses being paraded through streets and Daesh fighters with guns
BEIJING: Social media app TikTok has taken down accounts that were posting propaganda videos for the Daesh group, a company employee said Tuesday, in the latest scandal to hit the popular platform.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese firm ByteDance, claimed some 500 million users globally last year, making it one of the most popular social apps.

An employee at TikTok told AFP that about 10 accounts were removed for posting the videos.

“Only one of those videos even had views that reached into double digits before being taken down,” said the staffer, who declined to be named.

The videos featured corpses being paraded through streets and Daesh fighters with guns, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story on Monday.

The Journal said the posts were from about two dozen accounts, which were identified by social media intelligence company Storyful.

“Content promoting terrorist organizations have absolutely no place on TikTok,” the company said in a statement emailed to AFP.

“We permanently ban any such accounts and associated devices as soon as identified, and we continuously develop ever-stronger controls to proactively detect suspicious activity,” it said.

Daesh's self-declared “caliphate” in Iraq and Syria fell in March, but the group remains active in several countries in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, as well as still inspiring jihadists through an online presence.

The TikTok platform, which allows users to create and share videos of 15 seconds, is particularly popular with teenagers.

“Unlike other platforms, which are centered around users’ friends or communities, TikTok is based on engaging with a never-ending stream of new content,” said Darren Davidson, the editor-in-chief of Storyful.

“The Daesh postings violate TikTok’s policies, but the sheer volume of content makes it difficult for TikTok to police their platform and root out these videos,” he said.

The app has been marred by controversy in recent months. In April, TikTok was briefly banned by an Indian court over claims it was promoting pornography among children.

The app is banned in neighboring Bangladesh and was hit with an enormous fine in the United States for illegally collecting information from children.

The company has refuted the allegations, saying they abide by local privacy laws.

ByteDance has a version of TikTok in China called Douyin.