Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has publicly denied that he is Vladimir Putin's stooge, after Ukrainian Facebookers complained about posts and accounts being deleted, even though they didn't break the site's rules (according to them, at least).
After President Petro Poroshenko joined in with calls for a separate Ukrainian Facebook workspace – believing that a Russian Facebook office was responsible for the perceived censorship – Zuck waded into the debate personally.
In a live-streamed Townhall Q&A with the Facebook founder, Ukraine topped the agenda, with the appeal to create a Ukrainian Facebook office garnering a large number of likes.
The CEO announced that he "did some research" in expectation that Ukrainian issues would be raised, to "make sure he had the right answer" for complainants.
Addressing the content removals and accusations of politically motivated moderation, Zuck noted that his advertising machine doesn't "allow content that is overtly hateful, contains ethnic slurs, or incites violence. There were a few posts that tripped that rule, and I think we did the right thing according to our policies by taking down that content".
Then he accused the Ukrainians of propagating the meme (Zuck's word) that Ukrainian Facebook content was controlled from a Russian office by Putin stooges. Zuck remained adamant that there is no Russian Facebook office. Ukrainian content is actually reviewed in Dublin.
Responding directly to requests for a Ukrainian outpost, the Facebook chief said:
Are we willing to put an office in Ukraine? Over time, it's something we might consider. There are advantages to people working for Facebook not spread out around the world, but in a smaller number of offices.
It makes sense to have local teams for sales, marketing, but for engineering and things like that it makes sense to centralise.
But as we look to expand over time, we will, of course, consider all of these countries.
Having casually strolled into the conflict between India and Pakistan, Zuck celebrated his 31st birthday yesterday. ®