Here's why Facebook is censoring Hersh’s NordStream report
Facebook claims Seymour Hersh's piece, which holds the US accountable for blowing up NordStream pipelines, allows other stories with proven dubious claims on its platform.
Facebook is currently deliberately preventing people from sharing Seymour Hersh's report on the suspected involvement of the United States in the attack on the Nordstream pipelines, a report by Responsible Statecraft highlighted.
As of Thursday, any attempt to share the Substack article from February 8 on Facebook where Hersh first detailed the accusation of anonymous sourcing will first be met with a prompt informing the user of "additional reporting" on the matter from the Norwegian fact-checking website Faktisk and cautioning that "pages and websites that repeatedly publish or share false news will see their overall distribution reduced and be restricted in other ways.”
If one chooses to "share anyway", Hersh's article is posted with a blurred background and the social networking site's "false information" designation. It was later unblurred and given the "partly false information" designation.
The report detailed that Facebook not only flagged the post as fake but also alerted users about the notice they'd added a few hours later, saying that the user had posted something that "includes information that independent fact-checkers said was partly false."
Facebook warned that "people who repeatedly share false information might have their posts moved lower in News Feed," implying that if a user continues to share the news that has been disputed by fact-checkers, they will suffer a reach throttling penalty.
However, the Faktisk fact-check, which stands for "Actually" in Norwegian, relies mainly on open-source information, whose validity has recently been questioned.
The final nail in free speech
Unsurprisingly, Facebook posts supporting the alternative explanation put forth by the New York Times — that the attack was carried out by an unaffiliated "pro-Ukrainian group" — as well as those supporting the Die Zeit report — that the pro-Ukrainian group consisted of six individuals who used a rented yacht — can both be posted without any problems.
Yet since their publication, both tales have faced criticism. Swedish investigators have reiterated their belief that the blast was carried out on a state level. Law enforcement officials told The Washington Post that they have doubts about the accuracy of the German report.
They specifically questioned the use of a yacht and the idea that a six-person crew could have carried out the operation, including manually laying the explosives. In further detail, the US officials who were promoting the Times' hypothesis stuffed it full of caveats and insisted there were "no firm conclusions" while avoiding discussing the pieces of evidence they relied on.
Reports that claim Russia destroyed its own pipeline have not received any pushback from Facebook, most notably a report by Bloomberg citing a German official who blamed Moscow for the blasts among others.
It is worth noting that Russia has constantly warned that media reports about the attacks on Russia's Nord Stream pipelines are part of a coordinated spread of disinformation and an attempt to push attention away from the real perpetrators.
The Kremlin has always wondered how US officials that media reports cite can assume anything about the attacks without an investigation.