Monday, June 21, 2021

Facebook reportedly plans to drop its ‘newsworthy’ exception for politicians like Trump whose posts go against its rules

Facebook will start enforcing its content moderation rules on politicians after previously – and controversially – giving newsworthy figures like former President Donald Trump immunity, The Verge’s Alex Heath reported Thursday.

The move is a departure from Facebook’s historically hands-off approach to moderating content from high-profile political leaders around the globe. Twitter took a similar stance throughout Trump’s presidency.

However, both platforms took unprecedented action when they banned Trump following the January 6 Capitol riots over risks of incitement of violence.

Facebook could announce the change as soon as this week, per the report. Sources also told The Verge that Facebook would clarify how its strike system works for users that break its content guidelines.

Facebook did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

As The Verge notes, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and other executives have said the  company should not check or remove posts from politicians. Facebook’s vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg, declared in 2019 that the platform would “treat speech from politicians as newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard.”

The possible shift comes after Facebook’s Oversight Board – an independent group of non-Facebook employees tasked with reviewing the company’s content moderation decisions – ruled on Trump’s ban in April

The group, often called Facebook’s “supreme court,” upheld the company’s decision to remove Trump from the platform bu said it was up to Facebook to decide just how long that ban should last. The Oversight Board also said Facebook should review the case and establish a system of rules that apply to all users on its platform, including Trump.

Public scrutiny of internet platforms mounted in the past year amid a global pandemic, social unrest following the police killing of George Floyd, and the divisive 2020 presidential election. As a result, social media companies like Facebook and Twitter began flagging or removing posts that violated their content rules.

But in doing so, the platforms stoked some Republicans’ belief that tech platforms were silencing conservative voices. Twitter’s crackdown on Trump’s May 2020 misleading tweets about the legitimacy of mail-in voting especially added fuel to the fire, as did its ban of a New York Post story about President Joe Biden’s son from late 2020.

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