On March 27, Facebook published a press release, according to which the largest social network launched a fact-checking program in Ukraine to counter disinformation. Facebook chose two Ukrainian organizations for this work: VOX and StopFake.
Information about this published banned in Ukraine in the extrajudicial Internet edition Strana.ua
The publication notes that the other day StopFake unreasonably accused Strana of distorting information. The claims concerned news that far right will check documents in Kiev transport.
In response, in the editorial “Fake from StopFake. Why Facebook censors from Ukraine stood up for the ultra-right“Strana explained in detail the fake nature of these accusations.
“Strana” has collected information about the organization itself, which will actually censor the Ukrainian segment of Facebook – the largest social network in the world. She also found out why StopFake’s interest in news about the ultra-right may not be accidental.
Imprisoned for Russia
StopFake on Twitter characterized itself as follows:
“We track / check facts / expose Russian propaganda. Created by students / alumni / faculty of the Mohyla School of Journalism.”
Thus, StopFake participants are positioned as “fighters against Russian propaganda.” Indeed, the lion’s share of StopFake materials is devoted to the exposure of Russian media publications.
How Facebook fact-checking works
Initially, a press release from Facebook about the choice of Ukrainian “censors” was published by a journalist from the American edition of BuzzFeed News Christopher Miller:
In a press release, Facebook announced a mechanism for censoring content: if its fact-checking expert identifies information as fake, then it will appear in the news feed below other news. As a result, fewer people will see the fake, and the page that posted it will lose the ability to monetize and advertise.
Also, Facebook will designate such messages as fake and warn users that the information is unreliable.
Christopher Miller wrote that this is good in theory, but participation in the StopFake process should be a cause for concern.
Later, in the comments, he explained what exactly worries him.
“StopFake employee Yevgeny Fedchenko (one of the founders and executive director of the organization – Ed.) Takes political positions and opposes freedom of the press and news that criticizes the government or does not use the language he prefers,” Miller wrote.
In another comment, he added: “I was also told that groups and governments, including the UK, have cut funding for StopFake due to concerns about fact-checking abilities and public comments from co-founder Fedchenko attacking journalists and press freedom.”
Suprun, Nazis and StopFake
Another journalist Michael Colborne, who works for bellingcat and Haaretz, also took notice of the news. He reportedthat in September 2017, StopFake representative Marko Suprun took part in the event together with Arseniy Bilodub, the creator of the neo-Nazi fashion label and the leader of the Sokira Perun group.
“One of the songs of the Sokira Perun group is Six Million Words of Lies, which denies the Holocaust,” the journalist wrote.
The journalist posted several photos from the event. According to the caption to one of the photos, “brothers” Marko Suprun, Andriy Sereda and Arseniy Bilodub “talk about the spirit of the Ukrainian nation”:
In this regard Michael Colborne wonders:
“Facebook needs to ask why their public face is talking to neo-Nazis. I wonder if I posted this on Facebook, would it be downgraded and flagged as disinformation?”
And what does Suprun have to do with it?
Marko Suprun, who appeared in a joint event with the ultra-right, is the husband of ex-Minister of Health Ulyana Suprun.
Marko Suprun is very active in the work of StopFake, which he chose as his new partner Facebook. On English version of the site the organization has many videos in which he, as a presenter, “exposes fakes” in English:
Also English version youtube channel of the StopFake organization consists almost entirely of videos with presenter Marko Suprun:
Source: youtube.com/ StopFake English
Marco Suprun and his wife are US citizens who moved to Ukraine in 2013 before the start of the Euromaidan.
Recall that from 2016 to 2019, Ulyana Suprun served as the Minister of Health of Ukraine. She became famous for the mass of ambiguous statements, and also launched the scandalous reform of Ukrainian health care.
What does the Nazis have to do with it
“Strana” learned that the scandalous photos with the participation of Marko Suprun and Arseniy Bilodub were taken on an event hosted by the International Nationalist Congress in September 2017.
In addition to Marko Suprun, this event was attended by an activist of the ultra-right movement Andrei Bilodub and the leader of the rock group “Komu Vniz” Andrei Sereda:
Arseniy Bilodub, Andrey Sereda, Marko Suprun. Photo source: mnk.org.ua
Arseny Bilodub (Klimachev), who was called the “brother” of Marko Suprun at the event, is a very well-known personality in ultra-right and radical circles. He is the leader of the rock group “Sokira Perun”.
He is also the owner of the popular ultra-right clothing brand “Sva stone”. Svastone is the slang name for the fascist swastika symbol.
“Country” already told what the group “Sokira Perun” is known for… Former Prime Minister Oleksiy Goncharuk disgraced himself because of attending a concert of this group. He not only attended the event, but performed from the stage against the background of the Sokira logo.
The Sokira Perun group, to which the prime minister came to listen, has a reputation as neo-Nazis.
After the concert of this group in Kiev in the spring of 2018, law enforcement officers opened a criminal case due to the use of the swastika and other Nazi symbols, as well as because of the fascist appeals and quotes of the Italian dictator Benito Mussolini.
One of the most famous songs of “Sokira Perun”, of which Bilodub is the leader, is called “Six Million Words of Lies”.
It denies the Holocaust, that is, the extermination of six million Jews by the Nazis during World War II.
And in the text of the song “Sokira Perun” with the title “August 17”, dedicated to the birthday of the Nazi bonza Rudolf Hess, there are the following words:
“Pomichnik of Adolf Hitler, you must go all the way to the end of the day.
Brahma Valhalli has come to see me, so that she can take on the spirit of a fighter!
Mi nikoli you will not be forgotten, and your memory is not invisible!
The mandate is with us, the mandate is with us,
Rudolf Hess – help and strength in battles!
Hour RaHoWa, come Hour RaHoWa.
I will end your right in battle! “
Bilodub (Klimachev) also took part in the actions of nationalists – so, in 2015, he and “Right Sector” hung a “memorial plaque” on Oles Buzina’s house in honor of Andrei Medvedko and Denis Polishchuk, who are accused of murdering the writer.
Products belonging to Bilodub brand “Sva stone” are openly sold on the Internet. For example, on the site of a well-known online store you can see a sample of the “products” of this “brand”: it shows only a slightly veiled sign of the German Nazi organization “SS”:
An expert on extremist organizations, Pavel Klimenko, calls Bilodub “the spiritual leader of the Ukrainian ultra-right.”
“This is a kind of key figure among the Ukrainian ultra-right,” Klimenko explained in interview with Israeli newspaper Haaretz… According to him, Bilodub has been organizing neo-Nazi events in the country for more than two decades.
What does America have to do with it?
StopFake closely associates funding sources with the United States and other Western countries.
They are indicated on website of the organization… These are the International Renaissance Foundation (Soros Foundation), as well as the National Endowment for Democracy, which is funded by the US government.
Also on the list of sponsors are the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the British Embassy in Ukraine, as well as the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and The Sigrid Rausing Trust:
Why Facebook chose StopFake
The choice of StopFake as a “censor” of the Ukrainian segment of Facebook is far from accidental.
The fact is that Facebook’s public policy manager for Ukraine Kateryna Kruk previously worked at Stopfake. Professor of the University of Ottawa (Canada) Ivan Kachanovsky drew attention to this.
By Professor’s message, the choice of Stopfake as a Facebook partner organization was made by Katerina Kruk. According to the professor, she was a volunteer for the far-right Svoboda party during the Maidan. She then tweeted about the snipers at the Ukraine Hotel, which was controlled by Svoboda.
“At the same time, Stopfake, in Orwellian fashion, called such snipers a” fake. “Now, obviously, Facebook will do the same,” the Canadian professor concluded.
Indeed, Kateryna Kruk previously worked closely with StopFake and was the host of programs there. Before going to work at Facebook, she in February 2019 posted a video, where she said that she participated in the recording of “Stop Faking News – Digest in Ukrainian”, and that it is a great honor for her to work with the StopFake team:
She also posted tweets in support of Ulyana Suprun, the wife of the host of the English-language StopFake programs and the “brother” of the ultra-right, Marko Suprun:
Strana has already reported that at the beginning of June 2019, the Policy Manager Ekaterina Kruk became Facebook in Ukraine…