In May, journalist Matthew Caruana Galizia published a series of posts to Facebook, alleging that that Malta’s Prime Minister, Joseph Muscat, had engaged in corrupt practices. Days later, Galizia found himself locked out of his account, while several of the posts were deleted.
Galizia is part of the team that broke the Panama Papers story last year, and his reporting comes weeks before the country is scheduled to hold an election in June. He noted that he didn’t see the story covered much in traditional papers, so he turned to Facebook to reach a wider audience. “The response was incredible. I never expected anything like it.”
Following the publication of the posts, Prime Minister Muscat threatened to sue the journalist for libel, and on May 16th, Galizia was locked out of his account, according to The Guardian, although it’s not immediately clear if the government had a hand in the lockout.
Facebook is investigating the incident
In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook told The Verge that it’s looking into the incident. “We are investigating these posts and have spoken with Mr. Caruana Galizia so that he can publish what he needs to, without including unnecessary private details that could present safety risks. If we find that we have made errors, we will correct them.”
The incident raised concerns about how the social media company moderates content online, and Galizia told The Guardian that the incident “was enlightening because I realised how crippling and punitive this block is for a journalist.”