Facebook temporarily limited the ability of media outlet RT to post to the site this week, as RT said the block would curb its ability to cover Donald Trump’s inauguration. Formerly known as Russia Today, RT has been accused of acting as an English-language propaganda arm for the Russian government.
The story behind the ban, which Facebook has since halted, is tangled, but seems to stem from a copyright dispute. According to RT, the outlet broadcasted a transmission of President Obama’s final press conference, but was stopped by a message saying the live video might belong to another outlet called Current Time TV. RT disputes this, saying it was broadcasting from an Associated Press feed it legitimately subscribes to.
According to a screenshot from RT, a Facebook message said the outlet was banned from posting “photos, videos, or shared content.” The limits was previously set to last until 10:55PM Moscow time, according to the message, although the outlet’s Facebook page continued to post text and story links earlier today.
“All the features for this page owner have now been restored,” a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge today. “We are looking into the reasons behind the temporary block.”
The situation appears to likely be a case of algorithmic copyright bots taking autonomous action, and RT left open that possibility, although it also cried conspiracy in an article about the incident, suggesting the US State Department may be behind the takedown. (Current Time TV is a project of US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.)
RT recently gained renewed attention for its relationship to Russia after a US intelligence community report cited the outlet as a major source of biased information making its way to the US.
Update, 11:39 AM ET: Includes Facebook statement saying the ban has been ended.