August 21, 2018 in News by RBN Staff




ON AUGUST 13TH, FACEBOOK shut down the English language page of TeleSUR, blocking access for roughly half a million followers of the leftist media network until it was abruptly reinstated two days later. Facebook has provided three different explanations for the temporary disappearing, all contradicting one another, and not a single one making sense.

TeleSUR was created by Venezuela’s then-president Hugo Chavez in 2005 and co-funded by hemispheric neighbors Cuba, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Uruguay — Argentina pulled support for the web and cable property in 2016. As a state owned and media property, it exists somewhere on the same continuum as RT and Al Jazeera, though like the former, TeleSUR has been criticized as a nakedly partisan governmental mouthpiece, and like the latter, it does engage in real news reporting. But putting aside questions of bias and agenda aside, TeleSUR does seem to exist on a separate plane than, say, InfoWars, which exists primarily to peddle its particular, patently false genre of right wing paranoia fan fiction packaged as news (and brain pills), as opposed to some garden variety political agenda. Unlike RT, TeleSUR hasn’t been singled out for a role in laundering disinformation for military intelligence purposes, nor is it a hoax factory, a la Alex Jones.

So it was unexpected when TeleSUR English blinked out of existence on the 13th, and even stranger when Facebook struggled to explain its own actions. At the time of its suspension, TeleSUR received this boilerplate message from Facebook:


Your Page “teleSUR English” has been removed for violating our Terms of Use. A Facebook Page is a distinct presence used solely for business or promotional purposes. Among other things, Pages that are hateful, threatening or obscene are not allowed. We also take down Pages that attack an individual or group, or that are set up by an unauthorised individual. If your Page was removed for any of the above reasons, it will not be reinstated. Continued misuse of Facebook’s features could result in the permanent loss of your account.

The Facebook Team

Later that day, a Facebook customer support agent told the network that the suspension appeared to be due to a technical glitch — a go-to explanation for the company— rather than a violation of the company’s Terms of Use, adding that the issue was “under analysis by the engineering department.”

We have a mishmash of incompatible justifications.

The next day, Facebook wrote TeleSUR again, this time saying that the company’s engineers had conducted “several tests,” and assured the outlet that “technicians” continued to look for an answer. On Wednesday, after a 48 hour blackout, Facebook wrote once more to say the page had been suspended due to a mysterious “instability on the platform,” which had now been corrected. It’s unclear whether Facebook would have corrected this “instability” had TeleSUR not complained to them, and equally unclear why the company had initially claimed TeleSUR had violated its terms of service.