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Facebook and Twitter remove Russian embassy posts denying Mariupol hospital bombing

Russia made unsupported claims a photo was staged.
A protestor holds a sign in front of the gate of the Russian Embassy during an anti-war protest, after Russia launched a massive military operation against Ukraine, in London, Britain, February 26, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Jon Fingas
Jon Fingas|@jonfingas|March 10, 2022 5:31 PM

Major social networks aren't done cracking down on Russian misinformation following that country's invasion of Ukraine. As CNN's Donie O'Sullivan and CNBC report, Facebook and Twitter have both removed posts from Russia's UK embassy over false claims surrounding the bombing of a maternity hospital in the Ukraine city of Mariupol. Russia claimed without evidence that a woman in a photo of the destroyed hospital was a "beauty blogger" and that the photo was staged.

Meta spokesperson Andy Stone told O'Sullivan a Facebook post violated rules about content that asserts a "violent tragedy did not occur." Twitter's representative, meanwhile, told CNBC multiple tweets broke rules surrounding the "denial of violent events."

Russia has routinely promoted demonstrably false narratives surrounding the invasion of Ukraine, prompting Meta, Twitter, Google and others to restrict state-backed Russian media outlets like RT and Sputnik. In turn, Russia recently made it illegal for the media to contradict President Putin's official line on the war and has blocked Facebook and Twitter.

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The removals aren't surprising given the stances of Meta and Twitter against Russia-based misinformation. However, there may still be room for more action. The Russian embassy in Geneva, for instance, has routinely shared unsupported claims about Ukraine on Twitter, including allegations a Ukraine paramilitary group was using Mariupol hospital patients and staff as human shields. We've asked Twitter for comment, but this suggests the fight over misinformation is far from over.

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