Quite in tune with Kissinger’s maxim of politics being the continuation of war by other means, Facebook has been showing another card of late.
While on the one hand Zuckerberg’s empire will go to great lengths not to offend any modern “sexual identity” by providing over two dozen selections for the gender column in their profiles, they are not amused when it comes to jovial relations between Russians and Ukrainians.
According to the Moscow Times, in late June, both Eduard Bagirov, a prominent Russian writer, and Maxim Ksenzov, deputy head of Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor, were censored by Facebook for using the term khokhly*, a Russian term for Ukrainians, with either a derogatory or jovial meaning. In the same article, its author Ivan Nechepurenko conveys how the term has been in broad use for a long time without causing offence and only now has tripped up Facebook’s sensors.
In absence of an alternative explanation, which Facebook seems unwilling to provide, there is no other than Kissinger’s – this is yet another example of a corporation building a favourable reputation with their government by participating in their information war against the latest fashionable boogeyman.
If this notion of referring to one time compatriots and otherwise cultural brethren were a uniquely Russian custom, one explain Facebook’s behavior by its (relatively) small user base in Russia, where their Russian counterpart, vKontakte, has a substantially larger user base. But anyone familiar with British culture will know that they have been mocking the French for decades without great harm, referring to each others as frogs and les rosbifs and generally having a rather good time at each other’s expense.
Perhaps it would behoove Zuckerberg to be more concerned about users defecting over his lackluster attitude towards privacy instead of being concerned about female nipples, the 32nd gender identity and what a Russian calls his neighbor.