Facebook sued by news media outlet over 'Russia state-controlled' label
An online media company identified as “Russia state-controlled” on Facebook is now suing the social network over that very label.
Maffick LLC has filed a lawsuit against Facebook over the foreign-controlled label that the social media giant puts on all of its pages and posts. Maffick runs popular Facebook Pages and Instagram accounts for online news media outlets such as In the NOW, Waste-Ed, and Soapbox.
You’ve probably come across Maffick’s Facebook page for “In the NOW.” With nearly 5 million followers on the social media platform, In the NOW’s video content is regularly shared on Facebook.
However, one thing you may or may not have noticed is that all of In the NOW’s content comes packaged with a very unique label: “Russia state-controlled media.”
“This publisher is wholly or partially under the editorial control of a state,” reads the description accompanied by Facebook’s label. “This is determined by a range of factors, including but not limited to funding, structure, and journalistic standards.”
Facebook previously suspended Maffick’s Facebook pages in 2019 after a CNN investigation reported on the company’s ties to RT, a Russia state-funded news organization. Maffick had received significant funding from Ruptly, a subsidiary of RT that provides video news content to publishers.
CNN described Maffick’s properties as “Russian government" backed online video channels that are “designed to appeal to Millennials.” The outlet also reported how “unusual” it was for Facebook to suspend the pages. At the time, Facebook’s guidelines didn’t require media companies on the platform to disclose relationships with parent companies.
Facebook has since updated its policies and, beginning in June 2020, started labeling state-controlled media organizations on its platform.
In its lawsuit, In the NOW’s parent company argues that the three Facebook Pages now belong to a new media outlet, Maffick LLC, which is separate from Maffick Media, the company that received funding from Ruptly. Maffick LLC is a U.S. registered organization owned and run by Anissa Naouai, a U.S. citizen living in Los Angeles, according to the lawsuit. Naouai formerly hosted a program on RT called In the Now.
Maffick is seeking to have Facebook remove the “Russia state-controlled” labels from its online properties. It also seeks monetary compensation for damages to the organization's reputation.
Some may see the business moves Maffick made as specifically trying to get around Facebook’s rules. Others could interpret the newly registered company as an attempt to comply with Facebook’s new guidelines. Either way, the lawsuit is certainly an interesting one, and Maffick appears to be making the most of it.
“It’s so official,” reads Maffick’s In the NOW tweet announcing the lawsuit. “We’re suing Facebook, bitches!”
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