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Russian firm FAN Sued Facebook and Zuckerberg Refuses to Resign as Its CEO

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The Federal Agency of News LLC which is also known as FAN and Evgeniy Zubarev, the company’s sole shareholder, filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against Facebook in federal court in the Northern District of California. They sued Facebook claiming that FAN is a legitimate news outlet and demanded that its Facebook account be restored. FAN’s accountant was charged for meddling with the U.S elections. Facebook deleted FAN’s account in April and this page was also indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for providing false information in the 2016 U.S. election.

FAN said in their defense that Facebook unlawfully deleted their page in the purge which took down more than 270 Russian language accounts and pages. The company’s official lawsuit reads, “FAN is an independent, authentic and legitimate news agency which publishes reports that are relevant and of interest to the general public”. They also claimed that Facebook violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964, claiming that it discriminated against the company due to its Russian origin.

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However, Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor, thinks of it as a trivial matter and said, “It’s safe to say this lawsuit is not going to be very successful,” he said. “At first glance, it seems like a PR stunt to me.” FAN acknowledged that they employed Elena Alekseevna Khusyaynova, the Russian woman charged by prosecutors for attempting to meddle in the 2018 elections. However, Khusyaynova was responsible for only a bookkeeping job.

Facebook has been taking a lot of heat due to being involved in one scandal after another. This has given rise to the uproar that Facebook’s current CEO should step down. However, Zuckerberg does not plan to resign from his post of CEO just now.

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“That’s not the plan,” Zuckerberg said in a CNN interview Tuesday evening. “I’m not going to be doing this forever, but I’m not currently thinking that makes sense.”

His role in Facebook has been questioned especially after the Cambridge Analytica scandal and many claimed that Facebook was aware of the Russian influence activities on its platform since 2016. Facebook hired Definers Public Affairs to retaliate against their critics. This too proved to be problematic on Facebook’s part as on Friday a group of Democratic senators sent an official letter asking them about their relationship with Definers.

Zuckerberg mentioned during the interview that he was not aware of Definers’ works. But Facebook’s outgoing head of public policy, Elliot Schrage did take responsibility for hiring Definers. Zuckerberg defended Facebook by saying, “There’s no doubt that we missed something really important. I wish that we understood the issue sooner. I wish we understood it before 2016 before the Russians tried to do these information operations in the first place. It’s a really big deal to come out and say that as a nation-state is behind something, and before our company puts a stamp on something saying that, I want to be really sure that’s the case.”

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