Facebook Inc plans to end its policy that shields politicians from certain content moderation rules, The Verge reported Thursday (June 3), in what would be a major policy reversal for the world’s largest social media network. .
The reported change comes as Facebook is expected to announce its response to recommendations made by the company’s independent oversight board when it ruled on the company’s suspension of former US President Donald Trump.
A Facebook spokesperson declined to comment on The Verge report.
Tech platforms have struggled in recent years over how to control world leaders and politicians who break their guidelines. Facebook and Twitter Inc have long argued that politicians should have more leeway in their speech on platforms than ordinary users.
The supervisory board of Facebook, an independent, company-funded group that can overrule its decisions in a small slice of content moderation cases, recently confirmed Facebook’s blocking of Trump in the wake of the Capitol Riot on 6 January, but said the social media giant was wrong to make the indefinite suspension.
He also gave non-binding recommendations, to which Facebook should respond in full by Friday. The board said the same rules should apply to all users, although it said heads of state and government officials may have greater power to cause damage.
READ: Facebook’s supervisory board confirms suspension of Donald Trump’s account
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long argued that the company should not control politicians’ speech. The company currently exempts politicians’ posts and advertisements from its third-party fact-checking program and its “media value exemption” allows politicians to post rule-breaking articles on the site if the public interest prevails. on harm – although Facebook has said it did not apply its media value bounties in the Trump case.
In the board’s recommendations, he stressed that “topicality” considerations should not be given priority when urgent action is needed on the platform to avoid “significant harm”.
The board also said that Facebook’s existing policies, such as deciding when material is too newsworthy to remove or when to take action on an influential account, need to be communicated more clearly to users.
Facebook has been criticized by those who think it should abandon its hands-off approach to political discourse. But he has also been criticized by those, including Republican lawmakers and some free speech advocates, who saw Trump’s ban as a disturbing act of censorship.
The board gave Facebook six months to decide on a “proportionate response” to the Trump case, which could see the former president’s account restored, blocked permanently, or suspended for a specified period of time.
Facebook has yet to announce a decision on the former president’s recovery on its platforms.