VILNIUS – Meta representatives will visit Lithuania in January to discuss the blocking of pro-Ukraine content in Lithuania with the Office of the Government of Lithuania, Transport and Communications Vice Minister Agne Vaiciukeviciute told reporters on Friday following a virtual meeting with representatives of Meta, Facebook's owner.
"Meta representatives have taken this issue really seriously and will come to Lithuania in January. It has been coordinated with the Office of the Government, and they will have a very serious conversation and analyze the issues and look for solutions to the problems," she said.
"The meeting's key issue was the problem of content blocking, which was very clearly visible by the public. We talked about why such content is blocked," she noted, adding that no concrete solutions were discussed yet.
"They want to see very specific cases to be able to answer very specifically why this or that measure has been taken," she said.
HOPES FOR AGREEMENT
Lithuania has the means to react to content blocking at the national level, Vaiciukeviciute said, but it wants to avoid this step. The vice minister did not specify what these steps could be.
"Lithuania, as a country, certainly has all the means to react. Naturally, we do not want to take any measures (...) and if we manage to find them (solutions – BNS), we won't have to take any extreme measures," she said.
"Speaking of extreme measures, we are talking about a theoretical, only a theoretical possibility for this moment, for regulation, but there's no talk about it for this moment. We think we will reach a consensus," the vice minister said.
In a statement released by the government on Wednesday, Government Chancellor Giedre Balcytyte said "the Office of the Government has been closely monitoring the situation on Facebook, especially recently, and has seen users' complaints about pro-Ukraine posts being allegedly unjustly deleted and their authors blocked".
A team from Debunk.org, a disinformation analysis center, is starting to collect examples of Meta's platforms blocking messages about Russia's war in Ukraine, and this is expected to help identify not only specific cases but also the overall scale of the problem, the statement also said.
TAPINAS INVITED AT THE VICE MINISTER'S INITIATIVE
Balcytyte also said such information could serve as an argument in discussions with Meta representatives on Facebook moderation changes.
Andrius Tapinas, a public figure, was also due to attend the Friday meeting with Meta representative. On Wednesday, on his Facebook account, he urged people write in the comments what they had been blocked for and how many times, what Facebook sanctions they had subjected to, and he also asked users to attach screenshots to prove it.
However, on Friday, he said Meta's representatives wanted to speak with the ministry's representatives only.
"The transport and communications vice minister called yesterday and told me that Meta no longer wanted to meet with me and would only speak with the ministry. Apparently, Mr Jakub (Jakub Turowski, Meta's public policy director for Central and Eastern Europe) had dropped by to read the reactions," Tapinas said.
Vaiciukeviciute said Tapinas was invited to the meeting at her initiative.
"I invited him to the meeting. However, Meta representatives said they plan to come and have a live meeting with government representatives in January to actually look for those points of contact to resolve these problems, and they refused (to meet with Tapinas – BNS)," she said. "I also thought it was a bit strange, because, naturally, if there are problems, we can find those answers only during such conversations. But that was their will."