The viral pages which were suspended over the weekend, are owned and run by Maffick Media whose major stakeholder is Ruptly, a subsidiary of RT. Facebook said it would request the administrators to disclose their Russian affiliations. Even though Maffick Media has contractors working from Los Angeles, it was reportedly registered in Germany.
This surprising move by Facebook to remove those viral pages is quite unusual, as Facebook does not require users to disclose information regarding their parent companies. However, in an effort to ensure transparency on the social media platform, Facebook is gradually taking steps to fish out clandestine government information spread across its service.
Barely two years ago, Facebook had come under intense scrutiny after it discovered that the US Presidential elections in 2016 were meddled with by Russia through its platform. Since then, Facebook had pulled down hundreds of accounts belonging to Russians and even some pages that tried to influence the elections from Iran.
A spokesperson for the social media platform stressed that its users worldwide should not be misled about whoever is in charge of pages visited. He also noted that Facebook will continue to improve, so its users can get more information about the pages they like and follow.
Unlike YouTube, Facebook’s policies do not allow them to label a country-sponsored media on their platform, but it is considering plying that route for transparency sake.
Maffick Media, before the suspension, ran three pages: Backthen (a history channels that describes western imperialism), Soapbox (a page that discussed current affairs), and Waste-Ed (an environmental channel). These channels collectively had over 30 million video views since September last year.
Records show that Ruptly owns 51% of Maffick Media, while 49% is owned by CEO Anissa Naouai.
In reaction to the suspension, Maffick Media stressed in a blog post that it did not violate Facebook’s policies, neither did their content promoted fake news and misinformation.