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Facebook to stop ‘shielding politicians from content moderation’ after Trump’s controversial remarks


Facebook plans to stop shielding politicians from content moderation after Donald Trump spent years posting controversial remarks before being permanently suspended in January over the Capitol riots, it has been reported.

The social media giant is set to announce the policy reversal as soon as Friday as Facebook has faced international criticism for its hands-off approach to moderating controversial posts from government officials like Trump, The Verge reported.

Sources told the outlet Facebook also plans to reveal details about its secretive policies under which strikes that can lead to suspensions are issued for breaking content rules. Facebook will reportedly tell users when they’ve been given a strike.

The company will also now disclose when a politician’s post that would violate its rules has been given a special newsworthiness exemption, The Verge reported. Facebook first unveiled policies in 2019 that allowed political leaders certain exemptions, claiming that even their false comments are newsworthy.

Posts made by politicians will still not be reviewed by independent fact checkers for truthfulness – as Facebook works to combat disinformation on the platform – but can face increased enforcement for violating other Facebook rules like bullying, according to The Verge.

Facebook plans to stop shielding politicians from content moderation

Facebook first unveiled policies in 2019 that allowed political leaders certain exemptions, claiming that even their false comments are newsworthy

Facebook first unveiled policies in 2019 that allowed political leaders certain exemptions, claiming that even their false comments are newsworthy

Trump, left, welcomes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to the White House in September 2019

Trump, left, welcomes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to the White House in September 2019

Trump spent years posting controversial remarks before being permanently suspended in January over the Capitol riots

Trump spent years posting controversial remarks before being permanently suspended in January over the Capitol riots

DailyMail.com has reached out to Facebook for more information and additional comment. 

The policy changes comes after Facebook’s independent Oversight Board announced in May that it upheld its decision to suspend Trump on January 7, the day after the deadly riot at the U.S. Capitol.

‘However, it was not appropriate for Facebook to impose the indeterminate and standardless penalty of indefinite suspension. Facebook’s normal penalties include removing the violating content, imposing a time-bound period of suspension, or permanently disabling the page and account,’ the Oversight Board wrote.

The Oversight Board demanded that Facebook review its policies and recommended that the company develop ‘clear, necessary, and proportionate policies that promote public safety and respect freedom of expression.’

‘The Board stated that it is not always useful to draw a firm distinction between political leaders and other influential users, recognizing that other users with large audiences can also contribute to serious risks of harm,’ the Oversight Board wrote.

The Oversight Board provided Facebook with a number of policy recommendations to which it gave the company until June 5 to respond, The Verge reported.

Facebook has notoriously taken a loose approach to what elected officials, not just Trump, can get away with posting on its platforms.

Even Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO and co-founder of Facebook, has said that the company is not in the business of policing ‘free speech.’ 

‘I’m here today because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression,’ Zuckerberg said in 2019 during a speech at Georgetown University’s Gaston Hall.

Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, clarified its exemption policy for political leaders in a statement also made in 2019, The Verge noted.

‘We will treat speech from politicians as newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard,’ Clegg said at the time.

Facebook executives outlined that the company would only discipline political accounts for posts that led to physical harm or discouraged voting. or if they participated in illegal activity like sharing child pornography.

In an extraordinary post, Zuckerberg accused Trump of using Facebook ‘to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government’

In an extraordinary post, Zuckerberg accused Trump of using Facebook ‘to incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government’

The new policy changes could have international ramifications impacting other world leaders who make controversial posts that violate the company’s policies. 

Besides Trump, Facebook has received criticism from users in India for allegedly ‘not taking action against violent comments made by members of the ruling party,’ The Verge reported. 

Facebook, though, has cracked down on foreign accounts spreading coordinated and deceptive messages. 

On Wednesday, Facebook also released a report titled ‘May 2021 Coordinated Inauthentic Behavior Report’ in which it detailed its work to ‘find and stop coordinated campaigns that seek to manipulate public debate across our apps.’

‘Our teams continue to focus on finding and removing deceptive campaigns around the world — whether they are foreign or domestic. In May, we removed two networks from three countries — Russia, Sudan and Pakistan,’ the report reads.

‘We have shared information about our findings with industry partners, researchers, law enforcement and policymakers.’

Facebook said that it removed 83 Facebook accounts, 30 pages, six groups and 49 Instagram accounts ‘operated by local nationals in Sudan on behalf of individuals in Russia.’ 

‘Our investigation uncovered some connection to the network we removed in October 2019 and we linked this latest activity to individuals associated with past activity by the Russian Internet Research Agency (IRA),’ the report reads.

Facebook removed 40 Facebook accounts, 25 pages, six groups and 28 Instagram accounts that originated in Pakistan ‘and targeted primarily domestic audiences in Pakistan, in addition to also focusing on English, Arabic and Pashto-speaking audiences globally.’ 



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