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Facebook Apologizes For Blocking Account of RT's Chief Editor

Russian President Vladimir Putin and RT editor in chief Margarita Simonyan. (file photo)
Russian President Vladimir Putin and RT editor in chief Margarita Simonyan. (file photo)

Facebook has apologized for blocking the personal account of Margarita Simonyan, the chief editor of the Kremlin-funded news agencies RT and Sputnik, calling it a mistake.

The U.S.-based social media giant said on September 13 that when it repeatedly deletes content by a user, it moves to block the account.

"However, if we realize that we made a mistake, we restore the deleted content and apologize for the mistake -- as in this case," the company said in a statement to Russian media.

RT, a Russian state-funded television channel, reported on September 12 that Facebook had blocked Simonyan's account for three days for allegedly violating the platform’s standards.

The Silicon Valley-based company has come under heavy pressure from Washington to block disinformation after U.S. intelligence agencies concluded Russia had used social media platforms like Facebook to divide Americans in the run up to the 2016 presidential election. The Kremlin used RT as one of its interference tools, the United States concluded.

That charge led to an order from the U.S. Justice Department in September 2017 for RT to register its U.S. operator as a "foreign agent." The allegations also prompted Twitter to ban advertising from RT and Sputnik, another state-run news agency and website.

Facebook earlier this year blocked a popular RT page called In The Now, sparking the Kremlin’s anger.

Based on reporting by RT, RIA, and The Daily Beast
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