Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, has temporarily made changes to its rules on violent speech, to not censor violent speeches aimed against Russia.
An example of such a post would be one saying “Death to Russian Invaders”. Normally such a post would be automatically detected and censored by Meta’s algorithms, but now they can be circulated on the platform without restrictions.
The internal emails corroborating the change in policy were accessed by Reuters. The report by Reuters showed that posts that call for the death of Russian and Belarusian Presidents will not be censored, especially in countries such as the likes of Armenia, Estonia, Ukraine, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Poland, Latvia, Hungary and Lithunia.
The move by Meta might seem like a retaliatory measure against Russia banning Facebook on March 4, when the Russian communications agency Roskomnadzor announced it will block access to Facebook in Russia, pointing towards 26 instances of “discrimination against Russia and Russian media”.
In a response to the ban, Nick Clegg, the President of Global Affairs at Meta, took to Twitter to tell that Russians would be cut off from reliable information, and will be deprived of everyday ways to connect with family and friends.
However, in a response to Verge, Meta responded that although it had made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate its rules. Meta would “Still not allow credible calls for violence against civilians”.
However, this isn’t the first time Facebook has relaxed its rules. Back in July 2021, Facebook allowed Iraninan Activists to post the words “Death to Khanmenei” and also post videos with the same slogan for a two week period, according to a Vice report.
During that time Iranians had taken to the streets to protest against government policies. The Khamenei in the slogan refers to Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, who holds the title of the Supreme Leader of Iran currently.