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New Legal Challenge: Meta slapped with lawsuit over censorship in Moldova

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Moldovan politician Ilan Shor and his legal team are preparing a lawsuit against Meta, the company owning among other things social media platforms Facebook and Instagram, following the closure of several accounts connected to the Moldovan opposition.

On June 6th, Meta closed several Facebook and Instagram accounts of Moldovan oppositional politicians and sent out warnings to accounts which followed them. The closures come in light of the upcoming Moldovan presidential elections which are due during the fall and correspond with the Moldovan government's efforts to limit the possibilities of the opposition to take part in the elections. Over the past year, the Moldovan Government has shut down over 60 media outlets in the country and prevented thousands of political candidates from several oppositional parties from standing in elections. These actions have been criticized by international human rights groups as well as the EU.

“It is outrageous that Zuckerberg and Meta are interfering with our national elections and enabling the Moldovan Government to oppress the opposition and prevent them from exercising their democratic rights. We will challenge any attempt to police free speech and defend our citizen's rights to free and fair elections,” reads a statement from the Political Bloc Victory, headed by Ilan Shor.

Meta has a pattern of censoring oppositional views around the world. Most notably, in 2020 Meta banned the accounts of U.S. President Donald Trump – only to reinstate the accounts two years later.

In Vietnam, the company has been making repeated concessions to Vietnam’s authoritarian government, routinely censoring dissent and allowing those seen as threats by the government to be forced off the platform[1]. In India, the company has been accused of supporting the government's effort to undermine critical voices and independent media[2]. The same abuse from meta has been reported across several African countries[3].

“The main social media platforms are controlled by a few private companies, by allowing them the power to collectively ban citizens whenever they want, we are ultimately giving them the ability to dismantle our constitutionally protected institutions and liberties. Our legal claim aims to defend everyone’s basic right to express their views and challenge the collaboration between these companies and authoritarian Governments,” says Aureliu Colenko, a lawyer in Ilan Shor’s team.

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[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2023/06/19/facebook-meta-vietnam-government-censorship/

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/facebook-services-are-used-to-spread-religious-hatred-in-india-internal-documents-show-11635016354

[3] https://www.cima.ned.org/blog/the-facebook-papers-how-authoritarian-governments-are-pressuring-platforms-to-stifle-free-speech/

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