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Meta accused of temporarily blocking hashtags related to the Bucha massacre

Meta-owned Facebook and Instagram got accused of briefly blocking hashtags related to the Bucha massacre on the respective platforms.

The hashtags included #bucha and #buchamassacre, being mostly associated with graphic images and videos of dead civilians in the Ukrainian city of Bucha. According to the mayor, bodies of more than 300 people were discovered following a general retreat of Russian forces north of Kyiv.

When asked why the hashtags are hidden, Meta’s spokesperson Andy Stone replied with: “This happened automatically because of the graphic content people posted using these hashtags. When we were made aware of the issue yesterday, we acted quickly to unblock the hashtags.”

In response, some Twitter users accused Meta of war censorship while others suggested that the incident was no more than the company’s community guidelines, automated to protect users from graphic content.

As of now, related hashtags are unblocked.

Meta’s policy description says that it prohibits “content that glorifies violence or celebrates the suffering or humiliation of others.” However, sharing graphic content related to raising awareness and sparking discussions about important issues is allowed. These kinds of posts are marked with the 18+/sensitive warning, thus protecting the young audience and those who wish to avoid violent imagery.

In the past, Meta’s platforms have already been criticized over war censorship. As such, in 2016, Facebook removed the photo of the 1972 “Napalm Girl,” illustrating children running from a napalm attack on their village during the war in Vietnam.

“After hearing from our community, we looked again at how our Community Standards were applied in this case,” Facebook said after reinstating the photo, adding it recognized “the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time,” Reuters reported.

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