Facebook is reportedly planning to end a policy that effectively exempts politicians from content moderation rules, reports said on Friday.
The change comes as Facebook faces increased criticism, from journalists, lawmakers, and its own employees, for allowing world leaders and politicians to use its platform to spread misinformation, quash criticism and harass opponents.
The company is also expected to announce a response to its independent oversight board, which recently advised that Donald Trump’s Facebook account should not be reinstated. The platform had suspended Trump’s account after the former president shared posts in which he seemed to praise the rioters who stormed the US capitol in the deadly 6 January riots.
As part of its non-binding recommendations, the board said the same rules should apply to all users and that Facebook’s existing policies, such as deciding when the material is too newsworthy to remove or when to take actions on an influential account, need to be more clearly communicated to users. The board also said that heads of state and government officials can have a greater power to cause harm.
Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have long contended that companies shouldn’t censor what politicians share. Although it has taken some steps to curb misinformation shared by certain leaders in the US, amid increased scrutiny, a Guardian investigation revealed that it allowed major abuses of its platform in small, non-western countries.
The Guardian reported in April that the platform “has repeatedly failed to take timely action when presented with evidence of rampant manipulation and abuse of its tools by political leaders around the world”.
The policy Facebook is expected to announce this week will stop short of subjecting posts by politicians to the same independent fact-checking that other sources share. However, the new policy will broaden the moderator’s ability to enforce harassment rules against politicians, according to The Verge.
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