Facebook suspends rules to allow some calls for violence against Russian invaders

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Meta’s decision reflects the intense anti-Russian response to the war in Urkaine, including this March 5 protest in New York City’s Times Square.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Facebook parent company Meta said Thursday it will allow violent statements against Russian invaders who would normally break the rules because it sees these comments as political statements.

“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have temporarily taken into account forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules, such as violent statements such as ‘death to the Russian invaders’. We will still not make credible calls for violence against Russian citizens,” Meta spokesman Andy Stone said in a statement tweet

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The rare exception to the company’s rules against hate speech, which prohibits people from posting content targeting a group of people, including violent content, shows how the world’s largest social network is moderating content about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, the move is already causing escalating tensions between Meta and the Russian government.

The Russian Commission of Inquiry said in a statement on Friday that it has opened a criminal case against Meta for alleged violations of the Russian Federation’s criminal code, which prohibits public calls to extremist activities and aid in terrorist activities.

“As part of the criminal case, necessary investigative measures are being taken to legally assess the actions of Andy Stone and other employees of the US company,” the commission, reporting to Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in the statement. †

Facebook has faced an increased number of calls to crack down on propaganda and misinformation. Last week, Russia said it blocked the social network after Facebook started making content from Russian state-controlled media harder to find on its platform and used third-party fact-checkers to disprove false claims. Russian telecoms regulator Roskomnadzor said in a statement Friday that Russia’s Attorney General’s Office demanded that the agency also restrict access to Meta’s photo and video service Instagram. Roskomnadzor said the restrictions will come into effect on March 14, allowing users to transfer their photos and videos to other social networks and inform their followers and contacts.

The Russian embassy in the US also reacted to Thursday’s decision, saying that Meta’s actions amounted to an information war against Russia, according to a report by Russian state news agency Novosti. In a post on Twitterthe embassy called on US authorities to “stop Meta’s extremist activities”.

Facebook has also been criticized for years that its rules are being enforced unequally. The company has created a semi-independent oversight board to make the most difficult content moderation decisions.

Reuters, which first reported the policy change, said that in certain countries, including Russia, Ukraine and Poland, the social media giant is also allowing some posts calling for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. . The changes also apply to Meta’s social network Instagram.

Citing internal emails, Reuters said death calls will not be allowed if they contain other targets or contain “two indicators of credibility” such as location or method of death. The posts should also be about the invasion of Ukraine. Calls for violence against Russian soldiers will also be allowed in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine, Reuters reported.

On Thursday, Facebook and Twitter deleted posts from the Russian embassy in the UK about false claims about Wednesday’s bombing of a maternity hospital in the Ukrainian city of Mariupol. In one tweet, the Russian embassy claimed that a pregnant woman seen in a photo of injuries in a hospital was actually a Ukrainian “beauty blogger” and suggested the photo was staged propaganda, CNBC reported.

At least one child and two adults were killed in hospital and another 17 were injured, Ukrainian officials said.

Meta didn’t immediately answer questions about how long it expects the waiver to be in effect or the number of posts that might be affected.

Meta has not released data on the number of Facebook and Instagram users in Russia. App analytics firm Sensor Tower estimates that Instagram has been installed 166 million times since 2014 from the Russian App Store and Google Play. Facebook in Russia has an estimated 56.2 million installs. Based on that data, Sensor Tower says that Russia is the 5th largest market for Instagram and the 20th largest market for Facebook.



This post Facebook suspends rules to allow some calls for violence against Russian invaders

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