Facebook accused of vetoing newspaper’s choice of interviewer: Jasper Jackson (theguardian)

By Jasper Jackson, published in theguardian

Sweden’s Svenska Dagbladet claims social network ‘seem to have a need to control the information and communication around them’

A Swedish newspaper has accused Facebook of trying to influence its coverage by vetoing its choice of reporter to interview the social network’s executives.

Svenska Dagbladet had run an investigation with freelancer Jack Werner into offensive comments posted to the Facebook pages of senior government ministers in Sweden. Werner had found that those reporting the comments to Facebook were being told they were acceptable.

Fredric Karén, editor-in-chief of Svenska Dagbladet, said the newspaper had been offered the chance to send a reporter to Dublin on 17 February to learn about the company’s policies and handling of comments, but when told that Werner would be conducting the interview, Facebook said it would rather have a staff reporter it could “educate” about its policies.

Werner is a well known commentator in Sweden, described by Karén as the “best social media reporter we have in Sweden”. The results of the investigation were published on Monday.

After Facebook refused to let Werner attend, Karén then offered to send a staffer as well, which was refused.

An arrangement was then made for Werner to conduct an interview remotely from Sweden while a reporter attended a briefing at Facebook’s offices. Karén says he then decided that it would be inappropriate for the staff reporter to attend without Werner, and asked to only conduct the phone interview, which Facebook refused.

“Maybe they think [Werner] knows a little bit too much,” said Karén. “He can ask them questions they don’t really have the answer to.

“My view about Facebook is that it is very very non-transparent company, and they seem to have a need to control the information and communication around them, they are not really into surprises.

“It’s the first time we have ever been in the situation where a person or a company asks us not to send a specific reporter. That’s really really unusual.”

Facebook would not elaborate on why Werner was not alloed to visit the Dublin HQ. However, a spokesperson said: “We have invited SvD to our next media day at our headquarters in Dublin following them cancelling an pre-arranged visit. We continue to look forward to have them there.

“We are currently reviewing the content passed on to us and have informed SvD that we will respond early next week.”

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