Facebook has censored a Pulitzer prize-winning journalist for publishing a series of posts alleging corruption by the prime minister of Malta and his associates.
Matthew Caruana Galizia, a member of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists' award-winning Panama Papers team, was temporarily locked out of his Facebook account over four posts, which were deleted for violating the social network's community standards.
"For me, this process was enlightening because I realised how crippling and punitive this block is for a journalist," Caruana Galizia told the Guardian by email. The posts, which were written in Maltese, contained allegations of wrongdoing by prime minister Joseph Muscat, his chief of staff Keith Schembri, and minister of energy Konrad Mizzi. Each post included images of documents from the Panama Papers leak.
The censorship of Caruana Galizia comes amid considerable political turmoil and intrigue in the Mediterranean island nation, where a snap election is scheduled for 3 June. It also again raises concerns over Facebook's incredible power to disseminate – or block – news and information.
Last year's publication of the Panama Papers – 11.5m documents from offshore law firm Mossack Fonseca – rocked Malta when it was revealed that Schembri and Mizzi had set up Panamanian shell companies. While Muscat's administration survived that scandal, investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia this April alleged that another offshore shell company belonged to Muscat's wife and was used to accept payments.
Muscat and his wife have denied receiving payments or being connected to the shell company, and have said they will sue for libel. They also pointed out that documents supporting the allegations have not been produced.
Muscat initiated a magisterial inquiry into the allegations, which is ongoing.