18:51 GMT21 January 2021
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    On Friday, Facebook took down three pages run by Maffick Media, a company partly owned by Ruptly, which is a subsidiary of RT. Facebook argued the pages didn’t disclose who backed them. One of the pages, In the Now, delivered “punchy political videos” and was clearly “having an effect” on Washington’s political narrative, a journalist told Sputnik.

    "Russia is backing a viral video company aimed at American millennials," a CNN headline warned last week. Even though Facebook doesn't usually require users to provide information about parent companies, that's apparently changed, as the social media giant unpublished Maffick's pages on the grounds that it wasn't clear they were partially owned by Ruptly, a subsidiary of RT.

    Journalist Rania Khalek, whose work appears on In the Now, one of the pages taken down, tweeted Saturday that Facebook was applying a double standard by not taking down other, similar pages.

    ​But Jim Kavanagh, editor of thepolemicist.net, told Radio Sputnik's Loud and Clear Tuesday that the ownership of In the Now was never kept secret, but rather repeatedly reported upon in the media for several years with little fanfare, and the site's videos clearly show its ownership on the screen as they play.

    ​"The reason they're going after [In the Now] is because Rania Khalek is very good," Kavanagh said. "This happened after her video on Venezuela, and she's got punchy political videos, she's very smart, she presents this stuff in a way that's accessible and powerful, and she has an effect. That's why they're going after it, is because it is something that people are listening to and seeing, and it might have an effect on people's minds."

    "If they're going to have a policy that everybody has to put little stickers on showing who funds them, then go ahead, do that; but warn everybody about it in advance, give them a chance to set it up, and be fair and consistent about it. But this is not what they did. That was an excuse; it's clearly an excuse. They went after someone that was left and that was giving a left dissident voice on important issues — Venezuela is an important issue, things are happening right now, you know, in the next couple of days — and they did it because it was a dissident left voice that was effective. That's what they want after her for," he said.

    "Facebook should be ashamed. This is one of the most egregious things I've seen," Kavanagh told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou. "But this is what was going to be coming. We saw it coming from the day they did this with Alex Jones. You could see it coming down the line."

    "It's so depressing to watch the party line, unanimity, with which they are treating things like Venezuela and things that are outrageous on the face of it, and they just won't let anybody on who gives a dissenting point of view," Kavanagh said. "And now they're trying to push people off who are doing perfectly normal and good work on social media. There's nothing wrong with what Rania Khalek was doing, what In the Now is doing, and they're just gonna squash it."

    ​Khalek has been giving US politicos rising blood pressure a lot lately. Late last month, Twitter exploded when Minnesota progressive Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar retweeted Khalek's endorsement of her statement against the US' attempted coup d'etat in Venezuela, Sputnik reported.

    "Facebook, Twitter, social media have to decide whether they are curated political magazines or whether they are for people to come in and say what they want, say what they feel like," Kavanagh told Sputnik, a news agency that recently suffered a major attack by Facebook last month when the tech giant took down hundreds of pages across Eastern Europe and Central Asia, including those of Sputnik employees, after Facebook claimed they were disingenuously spreading information and posing as locals, Sputnik reported. That move was in part directed by the hawkish Atlantic Council, which is heavily funded by NATO and US defense contractors.

    "There was nothing hateful, or in any way, shape or form with what Rania Khalek was doing, there was nothing nasty about it. It was political speech, and they're trying to make it into something else," Kavanagh said.

    The journalist said he expected increased pressure now on YouTube to take down In the Now and the other Maffick outlets, noting that "these organizations have to deal with government pressure."

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.


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    voice, dissident, internet censorship, censorship, Loud and Clear, Facebook, RT, Ruptly, Rania Khalek, Jim Kavanagh
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