MASTERCLASSING

Facebook sued by firm deleted in Russian troll account purge

Tyrone Stewart

Facebook app logoFacebook is being sued by a Russian company over the removal of its account from the social network, claiming that it is a legitimate news outlet.

The Federal Agency of News (FAN) and its sole shareholder, Evgeniy Zubarev, filed the lawsuit in federal court in the Northern District of California, Reuters reports. With the suit, Zubarev and his company aim to seek damages and an injunction to prevent Facebook from blocking its account.

Facebook deleted FAN’s account back in April while it was removing hundreds of pages linked to the Internet Research Agency, which was found to have been using social media to spread fake news in the run-up to the 2016 US Presidential Election. However, FAN and Zubarev deny having any part to play in what unfolded a few years ago.

“FAN is an independent, authentic and legitimate news agency which publishes reports that are relevant and of interest to the general public,” the company said in the lawsuit, according to Reuters.

The suit goes on to accuse Facebook of preventing freedom of speech and acting as an arm of the government, and even refers to the Civil Rights Act 1964 to claim that FAN is being discriminated against due to being Russian.

FAN has ties to Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, who has served as chief accountant for the company since August 2016 but has been charged over attempts to meddle in the 2018 congressional elections. The company also acknowledges that it once shared the same office building as the Internet Research Agency.