See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Facebook's Zuckerberg Responds to Ukrainians’ Complaints, But Is His Answer Enough?

Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg during his live Q&A. Screenshot from Facebook.

Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg during his live Q&A. Screenshot from Facebook.

Mark Zuckerberg has addressed the appeals of Ukrainian Facebook users for better content moderation and calls to create a dedicated Ukrainian office. His answer? Facebook “might consider” opening an office in Ukraine some time “in the future.”

Earlier this week, numerous users in Ukraine complained of their posts and accounts being taken down or blocked without any discernible violations of Facebook's community guidelines. They claimed these takedowns were politically motivated and the posts were being reported for violations by masses of “Kremlin supporters.” A mass appeal to Zuckerberg even garnered the support of Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko, who publicly joined the calls for a Ukrainian Facebook office.

In a Townhall Q&A with the Facebook founder, livestreamed online, Ukraine was the top item on the agenda, with the initial appeal to Zuckerberg gathering 45,000 likes—a record for the Townhall, according to the event moderator. Support for the issue from Poroshenko also got a mention.

Zuckerberg said he “did some research” ahead of the Q&A to “make sure he had the right answer” to Ukrainian complaints. Besides the creation of a Ukrainian HQ, he also addressed the content takedowns and unfair moderation practices that users claimed were “politically motivated.”

Zuckerberg said some of the Ukrainian posts in question did contain content that violated Facebook's community standards, namely the rule against “hate speech,” though he did not give specific examples.

We don't allow content that is overtly hateful, contains ethnic slurs, or incites violence. There were a few posts that tripped that rule, and I think we did the right thing according to our policies by taking down that content.

Acknowledging the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Facebook's founder also addressed the “meme” perpetuated by many Ukrainian users that the content of the Ukrainian segment was moderated from a Russian office by “Russians who were anti-Ukrainian.” He reiterated what other Facebook representatives had previously confirmed: that Facebook has no Russian office, and that the reported content for the Ukrainian segment is reviewed by an international team speaking different languages based in the Dublin office.

Zuckerberg admitted to the Facebook team making one mistake when reported content from Ukrainians was being taken down.

We did make one mistake. When we reached out to people to tell them why we took stuff down, there was a bug in the software: the reason [for blocking] content was given as ‘nudity’ instead of ‘hate speech.'[…] But we fixed that and apologized. And we'll try not do this again.

Zuckerberg then addressed the question of a dedicated Ukrainian office, which many Ukrainians believe would help mitigate unfair blocking. His response, though, was rather vague.

Are we willing to put an office in Ukraine? Over time, it's something we might consider in the future. There are advantages to people working for Facebook not spread out around the world, but in a smaller number of offices. it makes sense to have local teams for sales, marketing, but for engineering and things like that it makes sense to centralize. But as we look to expand over time, we will, of course, consider all of these countries.

These answers are unlikely to satisfy Ukrainian Facebook users, many of whom have come to view Facebook as “a platform where truth can be sought for and found, thoughts shared and discussed and many moves of civil society coordinated.” While they address some of the issues, like why some of the posts were taken down for nudity when they didn't contain any, they fail to explain why content like this photo of a late Ukrainian soldier's daughter or a portrait and a quote from a classical Ukrainian poet were taken down (they hardly qualify as hate speech). Ukrainian Facebook community, it seems, will have to fight harder for their right to free expression and might have to continue their demands for more granular and more sensitive content moderation.

  • Толік Тошу Триниті

    Zuckerberg gave BS answers. My acct has been blocked twice by Kremlin trolls

    • Coo coo

      hate speech, paranoia speech.

  • Ben Latimore


    Too many trolls with multiple accounts.

    • Alexandr Moskalenko

      Said yet another troll. How many FB-users in Ukraine and how many followers has president Poroshenko who joined the appeal

  • ABT123

    So, no office for Ukrainians yet? Pity. Kremlin trolls are a big problem now.

  • Guest

    Facebook should hire some Russian-speaking moderators, I mean Russian-speaking Westerners. What’s happening now is that pukin’s trolls massively “dislike” or report a post as “offensive”, the moderator who doesn’t speak Russian believes them and blocks the post.

    • andor_2001

      You don’t know about online translation?! Give me a break!

      • Another guest

        1) It’s not a moderator’s job to switch every time to online translators.
        2) Give you a break in what? Or you mean “break your neck”?

  • andor_2001

    The Ukrainian right of free expression stops where my right not to be insulted begins.
    Practically every Russian publication attracts as many Ukrainian trolls , as Russians they claim they have on their sites (I wouldn’t know since I am not interested in the Ukrainian sites).
    Plus, the Ukrainians have the so-called i-army, and they register and receive instructions daily.
    Read on…
    Each of your social media messages is strike to support Ukraine!
    Join the Ukraine Information Army
    and help Ukraine defend itself online!

    They are clever! English version is sanitized
    Here is the Ukrainian version

    Кожен твій інформаційний посил — це куля в свідомість ворога
    (Each your message is a bullet in the minds of the enemy)
    Долучись до Інформаційних військ України
    та отримуй щоденні завдання!
    (Register and receive daily assignments)

    • David Edwards

      You say you have a right not to be insulted. On what basis do you claim such a right? The suppression of free expression is a very serious matter, and the possibility of insult is insufficient justification for it. The right not to be insulted is generally asserted by rulers of countries that quash free expression as a means of quelling opposition to the political status quo. Instead of complaining about a violation of a fictional right, you should grow thicker skin if you want to shop in the marketplace of ideas.

  • Pingback: Facebook’s Zuckerberg Responds to Ukrainians’ Complaints, But Is His Answer Enough? | Meme para todos()

  • Sergiy Fakas

    Ukrainian FB community will move to another platform and stop being “FB” community. This happened with LiveJournal year ago so FB will share it’s fate.



  • Pingback: Zuckerberg evasive on the allegations of Facebook censoring Ukrainians | techynews2015()

  • Palirath

    So, he just wanted to cover his ass and let everyone know that facebook functions perfectly other than reporting the wrong reason for the takedown.

    Really, he needed to respond to complaints of massive “reporting” being used to silence posts and entire accounts, when the content did not violate the TOS.

  • Katia Soshynska

    He doesn’t give a damn.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site