Facebook and Instagram bans #Bucha and #BuchaMassacre hashtags

Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, has started blocking hashtags related to Russian war crimes in Ukrainian cities: #Bucha and #BuchaMassacre. Numerous Ukrainians used these hashtags, trying to spread photos and videos from the city of Bucha.

Facebook and Instagram bans #Bucha and #BuchaMassacre hashtags - 1
A shelled car near Bucha
Photo: AIN.Capital
  • In early April 2022, after the Ukrainian army entered the occupied city of Bucha, near Kyiv, many photos and videos documented the horrific crimes committed by the Russians. Ukrainian users, followed by the international media, began sharing these materials to talk about the crimes of the Russian army.
  • On April 3-4, 2022, users started noticing that the hashtags #Bucha and #BuchaMassacre were blocked on Facebook and Instagram, even though these photos and videos had become one of the top news stories of all the world’s media and speeches of world politicians. The media has written articles with headlines about the BuchaMassacre, and an article about it appeared on the English-language Wikipedia.
  • These platforms even started to hide the international call for help to Ukraine: StandWithUkraine.
  • It is clear that the hashtags were blocked due to regular complaints. Facebook’s first line of moderation is algorithms that respond to mass complaints (i.e. from Russian supporters). But at some point, content analysts definitely get involved.
  • Facebook has repeatedly stated (including in comments for AIN.Capital) that the Ukrainian segment of the social media is not moderated by Russians or the Russian office but by people familiar with the Ukrainian context. So there is a big question: Who exactly at Facebook decided to hide the hashtags that help the whole world learn about the crimes of the Russian army?