Facebook Unblocks Russian Media Outlet After Almost 24-Hour Outage
RT, a media company formerly known as Russia Today and financed by the Kremlin, said Thursday that its access to its Facebook page had been partially blocked by the social network until after the inauguration of incoming president Donald Trump.
The site said in a posting on Facebook that while it was still able to publish text on the network, it was unable to post live video, images, and links to its articles. The block or limit was set to expire on Saturday at 10:55 p.m. local time in Moscow (2:55 p.m. EST), the site noted. But RT staff also said that they were in contact with Facebook in an attempt to get their account unblocked earlier than that.
Update: RT said just before noon EST on Thursday that the posting restrictions on its page had been lifted after almost 24 hours of being unable to post video or images.
As is often the case with Facebook (FB) blocks and bans, no specific reason was given for the limited access. On Thursday, a Facebook spokesman told Fortune that “all the features for this page owner have now been restored [and] we are looking into the reasons behind the temporary block.”
In the notice that RT received on its Facebook account, a screenshot of which the site posted in its own story on the block, the social network said: “Your page has been blocked from posting photos, videos or shared content. Please review the email we sent about repeat infringement. This limit is temporary and expires Saturday at 10:55 pm.”
In its post, RT said that the block appears to be related to its broadcast of a live-stream of President Obama’s final press conference, which apparently triggered a copyright complaint—although the company said that it has an agreement with Associated Press that gives it the right to publish the news-wire’s video feeds on its page.
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RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said that a complaint was made by Current Time TV, which is part of Radio Liberty, a Russian broadcaster that is partly funded by the U.S. Department of State. But Current Time told the company it had not sent any complaints about RT’s live-stream.
While the block may have been just a glitch, it drew attention in part because of RT’s connections to the Russian government. American intelligence agencies specifically mentioned the company’s potential influence on the U.S. election in a recent report on an investigation into allegations of Russian interference and how it may have helped Donald Trump get elected.
RT’s coverage of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton “was consistently negative and focused on her leaked emails and accused her of corruption, poor physical and mental health and ties to Islamic extremism,” the declassified intelligence report said.
It failed to mention, however, that numerous U.S.-based media organizations did more or less the same thing during the election without Russia’s assistance.
UPDATE (01/19/2017 11:33 a.m): This story was updated after RT reported that the Facebook block on its account had been lifted