Facebook on Monday said it planned to limit posts containing false information and hate speech related to the trial of Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, to prevent them from spreading harm in the real world.
As the arguments ended in court and Minneapolis was preparing for a verdict, Facebook said it would identify and delete social media posts urging people to bring weapons to the city. It also said it would protect members of Mr. Floyd’s family from harassment and remove content that praised, commemorated or mocked his death.
Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice president of content policy, wrote in a blog post: “We know this trial has hurt many people. “We want to strike the right balance between letting people talk about the trial and what the verdict means, while still doing our part to protect everyone’s safety.”
Facebook, which has long positioned itself as a site for free speech, is becoming increasingly proactive in controlling content that can lead to violence in the real world. The Silicon Valley company has struggled for years with how to handle sensitive news events. That includes last year’s presidential election, when online misinformation about voter fraud has roused supporters of former President Donald J. Trump. Believing the election was stolen from Mr. Trump, some supporters stormed the Capitol building on Jan. 6.
Before the election, Facebook took steps to combat misinformation, foreign meddling, and persecution of voters. The company displayed warnings on more than 150 million posts with false information about the election, removed more than 120,000 posts due to violation of voter intervention policy and took down 30 networks posting false messages about the election. .
But critics argue that Facebook and other social media platforms have not done enough. After the Capitol storm, social media prevented Mr. Trump from posting on the site. The company’s independent watchdog is currently debating whether the former chairman is allowed to return to Facebook and has said they plan to make their own decisions. “in the coming weeks, ”Without giving a definite date.
The death of Mr. Floyd, the black man, led to a nationwide wave of protest against the Black Lives Matter last year. Mr. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, who is white, faced charges of manslaughter, second degree murder and third degree murder because of Mr. Floyd’s death. The trial began in late March. Mr. Chauvin did not testify.
Facebook said on Monday it had identified Minneapolis, at least temporarily, as “a high-risk location.” They said they would remove Instagram pages, groups, events, and accounts that violated their policies of violence and agitation; take down attacks against Mr. Chauvin and Mr. Floyd; and labeling false information and graphics as sensitive.
The company did not have any further comments.
“Once the trial is over, we will continue to do our part to help people connect and share what they’re going through securely,” said Ms. Bickert in the blog post. .