This week, Facebook suspended the account of controversial Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro for spreading COVID-19 misinformation. This move led to cries of censorship from the Venezuelan government — while others wondered what took Facebook so long to act against the authoritarian leader.
Since January, Maduro has been promoting a Venezuelan-made liquid called Carvativir that he says can cure COVID-19. Of course, there’s no real evidence of that, so Facebook leaned on its new, tougher misinformation policies to freeze his account for 30 days. Naturally, Maduro and his government blamed Facebook for censoring him and acting as a “digital totalitarian.”
“We are witnessing a digital totalitarianism exercised by supranational companies who want to impose their law on the countries of the world,” Venezuela’s Ministry of Information said in a statement to Reuters.
However, this is far from the only offense Maduro has committed, and some advocates and journalists are wondering why Facebook has not punished him before; after all, the U.S. government classifies him as a dictator. And Facebook’s freeze might not even have an effect on him. According to CNET, he has already tweeted instructions to his 3.8 million followers to go to another Facebook page to watch his videos. So in other words, Facebook will have to do more than the bare minimum to stop him from spreading misinformation.
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