SAN FRANCISCO – Facebook plans to announce on Friday that it will no longer keep posts by politicians on its site by default if their speech violates its rules, two people said. Reversing how it allows posts from political figures to remain intact on social media, said people with knowledge of the company’s plans.
The change, tied to Facebook’s decision to ban former President Donald J. Trump from its website, is a retreat from a policy introduced less than two years ago, when the company alleged the speech was from Politicians are trustworthy and should not be controlled.
Under these changes, posts by politicians will no longer be considered newsworthy, people with knowledge of the plan said. Politicians will be subject to Facebook’s content guidelines that prohibit harassment, discrimination or other harmful speech, they said.
If Facebook decides speech from politicians is credible, it could be exempt from removal, according to a standard the company has used since at least 2016. Starting Friday, Facebook will disclose when it has applied a trust level clause to posts that violate the rules, said people with knowledge of the plan.
Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook, declined to comment. The Verge previously reported on the Facebook change.
This change was apparently because Facebook’s leaders had previously pledged not to interfere in political speech. Mark Zuckerberg, chief executive officer, said in a 2019 speech at Georgetown University that the company would not be a speech arbiter “because I believe we must continue to protect freedom of expression.” .” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s head of public affairs, has also said that all speeches by politicians “as a general rule should be seen and heard” on the platform.
However, Facebook has faced backlash against that stance by lawmakers, civil rights activists and even its own employees, especially when Mr. social media to rally a crowd that eventually stormed the US Capitol on January 6. A day after the riots, Facebook said it would block Mr. Trump because of the risks of allowing him to use the platform. This platform is too big.
Since then, Trump’s allies and supporters have challenged the company, saying Facebook engages in censorship and has too much power over who can say what’s online. To defuse the situation, the social network sent the decision to block Mr. Trump to an oversight board appointed by the company for review. Last month, the board upheld Mr. Trump’s ban but also sued the case back to the company.
The board considers Trump’s indefinite suspension “inappropriate” because it is not a penalty defined in Facebook’s policies and that the company should apply a standard penalty, such as such as a definite suspension or a permanent ban. The board also said Facebook must respond by Friday to its recommendations on how to handle potentially dangerous posts from world leaders.
Around the world, political leaders have also tried to limit Facebook’s power over online speech, while using the social network to push their own agendas. Russia, India and other countries recently ordered Facebook to pull down posts, even as some politicians of their own tried to influence people with Facebook posts.
In the United States, Florida last month became the first state to regulate how companies like Facebook control online speech, by penalizing companies that permanently ban political candidates in the state.
Other social media companies have also made exceptions for world leaders. Twitter has for years added comfort to politicians breaking its rules, allowing their posts to remain on its platform because this information is of public interest.
In 2019, Twitter said it would continue to allow world leaders to post harassing or abusive messages, but would hide them behind a warning label. Last year, Twitter began enforcing its rules more aggressively, removing some tweets from world leaders like President Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus.
On Friday, Facebook also plans to shed more light on how it punishes rule-breakers and major outlets that post offensive content on the social network who have knowledge of the scheme. said. That would include a more complete explanation of the “warning” process, a way the company checks for violations made by accounts or Pages that violated its rules.
Facebook has been criticized for a lack of transparency in the application of the strikes and for uneven enforcement of its rules, especially for popular accounts by conservatives. Insiders have questioned whether some Facebook policy executives are too lenient with right-wing figures who regularly violate content policies.
Kate Conger contribution report.