Does Big Brother speak Ukrainian?: Popov speaks out on Facebook block

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May 16, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

Op-ed by Eduard Popov- translated by J. Arnoldski – 

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Around 10 days ago, I opened Facebook only to find out that I couldn’t log in. A message from Facebook’s administration appeared which informed me that I’ve been blocked for a month for publishing “inadmissible” materials of an “extremist” bent. What “extremist” materials? What did I write that was so condemnable and “extremist”?

My surprise knew no bounds when I learned the reason that drew Facebook’s wrath. The “problem” was a comment which I wrote…in November 2015. I’ll quote it from memory: “In Russian nationalist circles and among participants of the Russian March, shouts of ‘Glory to Ukraine’ were heard. Obviously, the  numerous Ukrainian migrants in Russia are looking for ways to influence Russian movements and bring them over to pro-Ukrainian positions. This provocation can’t be allowed to succeed, and Ukrainians can’t be given the opportunity to organize a Maidan in Moscow via the hands of Russian nationalists.” 

That’s it. I see nothing “extremist” here. And I especially see no grounds for some gentlemen (or Ukrainian gentlemen) from Facebook to punish users for “incorrect” publications. I have a PhD, I’ve authored and co-authored several monographs, hundreds of scholarly articles, and thousands of expert and freelance articles, including on the problem of modern Ukrainian neo-Nazism. Some ignorant Facebook administrators have no right to teach me what’s right and what’s wrong. 

Fort Russ guest analyst Dr. Eduard Popov

But that’s not all. This is the second “punishment” handed down to me by Facebook’s editors in a year! In late December, I was blocked for two months. The reason? I wrote a hard-hitting post about the guru of Ukrainian “national self-consciousness,” Taras Shevchenko, whom I do not consider to be a “poet” or a moral person as he is purported to be. Thus, I was blocked for criticizing “Kobzar” (how his Ukrainian disciples christen him). No matter that his followers murdered the Ukrainian writer and journalist Oles Buzina. Maybe they killed him for his book, The Vampire Taras Shevchenko.

My friends familiar with the rules of social media have since explained to me that Facebook’s Russian edition is controlled by Ukrainians. This is quite in the spirit of the Ukrainian “national idea” of crying copious tears over the tragedy of Ukrainian culture oppressed by the Empire while setting on fire anything and everything non-Ukrainian whenever Ukrainians have their own little “empire.”

Yesterday I was present at a meeting of the Czech Right in Prague at which I listened to a detailed report by a representative of France’s National Front on mechanisms of manipulating public opinion that were used to help Macron win. Unfortunately, I do not speak French or Czech, so I caught only fragments of this interesting report. But I did understand that shortly after Hillary Clinton’s defeat, the young genius Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook, was summoned by his unnamed boss and ordered to more closely follow his social network’s content. Zuckerberg dutifully promised to carefully monitor posts and cut out “incorrect” publications. Perhaps Fort Russ’ readers might already know this, but I heard this for the first time. And this is in a country in which there is supposedly no strict hierarchy, and instead a maximum tolerance and rule of law. 

Yet the prodigy Mark Zuckerberg is only a servant of Big Brother, and the Ukrainians from the Russian version of Facebook are obedient servants as well. Of course, besides Zuckerberg’s orders, they are pursuing their own goals in line with their tradition of Ukrainian subservience. Maybe Zuckerberg, an American Jew, has not heard that the illiterate drunk Shevchenko was a virulent anti-Semite?

Alas, what is to be done? Wait for new “punishments” or slam the door on Facebook? I believe that neither the first nor the second variant are a correct way out of the situation. I have 5,000 friends on Facebook and I work with numerous interesting and useful contacts on Facebook, including the editorial board of Fort Russ. 

Perhaps the solution would be to create our own, alternative social network uncontrolled by Big Brother? But switching over an abandoning totalitarian Facebook would have to be a collective, not an individual move.

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I’ve expressed my opinion without being an expert on the technical issues of social networks. Perhaps collective discussion will yield a more realistic and knowledgeable decision. What do you say, fellow Fort Russ readers? 

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