Facebook Plans to End Policy Exempting Politicians From Hate Speech Rules

Facebook plans to announce that it will no longer exempt politicians from hate speech rules, reversing a policy it announced less than two years ago, The New York Times reports.

The change is reportedly linked to the company’s decision to ban former President Donald Trump. It similarly introduced the rule in response to criticism about how the social media giant handled hate speech rules and political advertisements.

Under the new policy, politicians’ posts will no longer be presumed to be newsworthy and will be subject to standard Facebook guidelines barring harassment, discrimination, and hate speech.

But the company can still deem a politicians’ post newsworthy and exempt it from being removed.

Facebook will disclose when it has deemed a post that violated its rules as newsworthy.

Abrupt reversal:

The change comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed not to restrict political speech.

He said in a 2019 speech that Facebook cannot be the aribeter of speech “because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression.”

Nick Clegg, the company’s public affairs chief, also said that all speech from politicians “should, as a general rule, be seen and heard.”

Trump links:

The company’s announcement comes ahead of a deadline by Facebook’s Oversight Board to respond to recommendations on how to handle dangerous speech from world leaders.

The board said last month that Trump’s indefinite ban from the platform was “not appropriate” because it was not a punishment defined in the company’s guidelines and called on the social network to apply a standard punishment for offending posts.

Facebook is expected to detail how it will penalize offending posters on Friday.


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