Russia Today
In picture: The Russia Today page on Facebook.Screenshot

Russia Today (RT) has apparently been banned from sharing multimedia content and links to articles on Facebook, in what people in the intelligence and cyber-establishments are seeing as payback for the role the news outlet allegedly played in Republican candidate Donald Trump's election as the US president. 

The US intelligence establishment has stressed that Russian intervention — at least in the form of fake or disparaging news concerning Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton — had led to a large chunk of voters being influenced to vote for Trump. The billionaire business tycoon-turned-politician himself has been forced to admit that there was some Russian hacking going on, but it had been limited to only the Democratic National Convention

Russia Today had been pinpointed by US intelligence agencies as one of the key news outlets that spread fake news and influenced US voters. Therefore, the limiting of RT's capabilities on US-headquartered Facebook is being seen by many as payback for the alleged role it played in influencing US voters. 

Nature of the block

A post on RT's own Facebook page from around 5 am IST on Thursday, January 19, reads: "We're currently blocked from new posts or shares to FB. The ban, as it stands, lasts until 10:25pm Saturday, Moscow time. Please bear with us, we're working on it with the FB team. [sic]" The timing of the ban means RT will not be able to post photos, videos or links of reports on Trump's inauguration. 

In reply to one of the many queries it was flooded with, RT wrote on Facebook: "We were blocked while livestreaming Obama's final press-conference. Such things happen because (for ex.) some other news media livestreams carry the same shots and feed, and Facebook considers this a copyright violation [sic]."

What next?

RT's social media head Ivor Crotty has said: "The live-rights strike seems to be part of an algorithmic failure to acknowledge rights acquired by broadcasters, and we hope it will be resolved in the short term." He added: "While Facebook is a powerful distributor of live-streams, it is struggling with the rights ramifications. RT will continue text-only posts to Facebook until the issue is resolved."