Polish far-right party banned from Facebook over alleged COVID disinformation

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Polish government officials called on Meta to reinstate the Facebook account of a far-right party banned from the platform for spreading COVID-19 disinformation.

Konfederacja (Confederation), a far-right with 11 members of parliament, saw its Facebook account removed from the platform on Wednesday.

It denounced the move in a statement as “a violation of the constitutional principle of freedom of information and interference in the forthcoming election cycle”.

Poland is scheduled to hold local elections in October 2022.

The party said in its statement that it had a community on its Facebook account of more than half a million followers and refuted claims to spread COVID-19 disinformation.

Michal Wawer, the party’s treasurer, said on Thursday that it has not yet received “any justification for removing the page from Facebook”.

“We received an automatic response to the appeal by FB that they probably will not consider it anyway, because of COVID,” he wrote on Twitter.

Euronews has contacted Meta for comment.

Janusz Cieszynski, the country’s Secretary of State for cybersecurity from the ruling ultra-conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party has meanwhile written to Meta, Facebook’s parent company, “to protest the decision in the strongest terms and call for bringing the profile back to Facebook”.

“I believe that this decision sets a dangerous precedent in which a legally operating political party, which enjoys considerable support and has a representation in parliament, loses an important platform where they can reach out to voters. By this decision, a major political discourse opportunity is taken away from both sides of the democratic process which is the essence of the modern European society,” he wrote.

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He added that by blocking the party’s profile, Facebook is “sending a political signal which has little to do with the quality of the arguments used in the discussion on COVID, and which brings to mind the worst — especially for the Polish — associations with preventive censorship.”

Adam Andruszkiewicz, another Secretary of State also condemned the account’s removal, saying the office of the Prime Minister is “strongly against such actions.”

“Freedom of speech in Poland is the foundation of democracy,” he added.

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