Facebook plans to end special treatment for politicians after Trump's ban


 

Facebook is planning to end its controversial policy that mostly protects politicians from content moderation rules that apply to other users, a sharp reversal that could have global repercussions on how elected officials use the social network.


The change, which Facebook is due to announce, comes after the Oversight Board - a Facebook-funded independent group that reviews thorny content provisions confirmed its decision to suspend former President Donald Trump but criticized the special treatment he gives politicians, explaining that the same rules should apply. to all users. The board of directors gave Facebook until June 5 to respond to its policy recommendations.


Facebook also plans to highlight its secretive system of strikes for accounts for breaching its content rules, according to two people familiar with the changes. This will include notifying users when they receive a violation for violating its rules that could lead to suspension.


BuzzFeed News and other outlets previously reported cases where Facebook employees intervened to prevent political pages from being subject to harsh penalties under the strike policy.


Facebook is also set to begin disclosing when it uses a special posting exemption to keep up with content from politicians and others who might violate its rules.


A Facebook spokesperson had no comment for this story.


The changes are noteworthy for Facebook because it has historically taken a hands-off approach to what elected officials in its service say. Company executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have said they should not be in the business of policing politicians' rhetoric.


They argued that such rhetoric is already the most scrutinized in the world and that private companies should not censor what politicians say to their citizens.


Over the past few years, Facebook has maintained a list of political accounts that are not subject to the same information validation or content moderation processes that apply to other users. In 2019, a group of employees asked for the list to be dissolved, citing internal research that showed people were especially likely to believe lies if they were shared by an elected official.


Politics drew sharp criticism over Trump and violent comments in India that same year, Facebook's vice president of global affairs, Nick Clegg said, we will treat politician's speech as news content that as a general rule should be seen and heard unlike explicitly illegal content such as pornography. For children, Facebook will not take action against politician's comments, unless they could reliably result in physical harm or discourage voting.


Content from other sources shared by politicians, such as news links or videos, is already subject to verification, a move that can significantly reduce the distribution of posts. Under Facebook's new policies, posts posted directly by politicians will not be subject to review by the company's independent network of fact-checkers. But they will open them up for the first time to more rules for things like bullying that Facebook's moderators apply to other users.

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