According to multiple reports, Facebook
is about to end its policy that largely allows politicians
to break content rules
against hate speech
, a dramatic shift after years of largely ignoring such posts due to their newsworthiness.
When the change takes effect, politicians will be required to follow the company's guidelines, which prohibit harassment, discrimination, or harmful posts. Facebook has already implemented policies to combat misinformation
and false news, such as removing posts that make false claims about COVID-19 vaccination
The change, which Facebook is expected to announce on Friday, comes after the social media
giant indefinitely banned former President Donald Trump
from posting following his efforts to inflame supporters ahead of the Jan. 6 attack
on the United States Capitol
. The Facebook Oversight Board upheld the suspension last month, but gave the company six months to determine whether the response was “proportionate.”
Trump has called his ban a "total disgrace" and threatened that the company, as well as others such as Twitter
, would "pay a political price." Twitter took a similar stance with its own ban on Trump, and has also instituted policies that hide offensive or abusive messages behind a warning label, or label them as misinformation.
Since at least 2016, Facebook has largely refused to moderate politicians' posts, stating in 2019 that such comments are newsworthy and that the company will, as a "general rule," leave them up to be "seen and heard." Facebook CEO
Mark Zuckerberg also stated in 2019 that the company will not police
“The long road to greater progress necessitates confronting ideas that challenge us,” Zuckerberg said at the time during a speech at Georgetown University. “I’m here today because I believe we must continue to stand for free expression.”
According to The Verge and other outlets, Facebook intends to publicly share some details about how it penalizes accounts that violate content rules, including notifying users when this occurs, as well as how it uses the newsworthiness exemption to leave controversial posts alone.
Since banning Trump, Facebook has been on the defensive; Florida
was the first state to announce last month that it would fine social media companies that permanently ban political candidates from its platform.