Facebook will start treating politicians like everyone else. The company’s controversy-plagued policy has been shielding politicians from its strict content moderation rules.
Facebook will end a policy that mostly protects politicians from repercussions even if they violate the hate speech rules of the site, an insider told The Washington Post. The move is likely to change how elected officials use the social network globally.
Facebook is likely to announce the change on Friday. The move comes after the Oversight Board supported its decision to suspend former U.S. President Donald Trump, but criticized the special treatment politicians get on the platform.
Breaking: Facebook plans to stop shielding politicians from the content rules it applies to everyone else, a sharp reversal from its position that all speech from elected officials is inherently newsworthy.
Could have big ramifications globally! https://t.co/enZ7tXQClU
— Alex Heath (@alexeheath) June 3, 2021Advertisement
The Facebook-funded independent group insisted that the “same rules should apply to all users.” The board will wait until June 5th for Facebook’s response about its policy recommendations.
Facebook could end its exemption for politicians
Facebook will no longer consider the newsworthiness of a politician’s post more valuable than its hate speech rules, citing the Oversight Board’s ruling on Trump. The company can keep a post up due to its newsworthiness. However, it will have to make its decision public, the Post reported.
Moreover, regular users will be notified about strikes that could lead to their account’s suspension, two people familiar with the changes told The Verge. Users earlier received account strikes when their content crosses limits and deserves a suspension.
With the change, users will be aware when they receive a strike. Facebook drew flak in the past for keeping politicians’ accounts active even after breaking content moderation policy.
Social media giants have been catching flak lately
Facebook and other equally popular Silicon Valley giants have been subject to potential new regulations over privacy and transparency-related issues. Aside from that, they have faced a major antitrust lawsuit in the U.S.
The Oversight Board could set an example for countries. Several countries are trying to regulate how social media companies check content on their platforms.
On the downside, it could delay the need for regulation since a solution is already available, according to experts.
In 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recommended setting up an independent body that would monitor controversial decisions made by the social network. The idea was to monitor the company’s power, which was criticized by government officials for not restricting the spread of Russian disinformation, hate speech, and provoking political discourse.
Facebook selects the members of the Oversight Board. However, it has given the board the power to make decisions on wrongly removed or kept content. The twenty members of the board can issue voluntary policy recommendations.