Facebook and Instagram allow posts calling for the “death of Russian invaders”

The Meta group confirmed that the moderation services would show “leniency to forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules on violent speech”.

Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced on Thursday that it is making exceptions to its policy on incitement to violence and hatred by not deleting posts hostile to the army and Russian leaders. “Due to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we were lenient towards forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules on violent speech such as ‘death to Russian invaders“Confirmed to AFP Andy Stone, head of communications at Meta.

We continue not to allow alleged calls for violence against Russian civilians“, he adds. Meta’s statement comes after the publication of a Reuters report citing emails exchanged by content moderators at the social media giant and claiming that the rule update applies to Armenia. Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Real-time adaptation

For Emerson Brooking, resident scholar at the Atlantic Council, a US think tank, the exceptions allowed by Meta represent an attempt to adapt to an extremely fluid and tense situation. “Facebook tries to write rules of war in real time“Summarizes this specialist in online disinformation to AFP. “War and violence are inextricably linked, it is impossible to separate them.»

Emerson Brooking recognizes that there is a risk of spillover that could harm the Russian population, beyond its military and political leaders alone. “Violent actions by one country against another have been observed throughout history to lead to calls for violence, intolerance or hatred against foreigners associated with the aggressor country.“, he explains. “One can think of the persecutions in the United States against the Germans during the First World War or against the Japanese during the Second World War.»

However, the change proposed by Facebook “clearly disapproves of calls for the dehumanization of all Russiansrecalls Emerson Brooking. This is not the first time that Mark Zuckerberg’s group has tolerated this kind of publication, even if examples are rare: in June 2021, the network had thus authorized for 2 weeks messages from Iranian opponents calling for the death of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Twitter has not made any recent announcement regarding an update to its policies on violent content. The platform did not delete a tweet from US Senator Lindsey Graham last week, where the elected Republican called for the assassination of Russian President Vladimir Putin to end the war. Twitter later confirmed to The Daily Beast that the post did not violate its policies. Asked by AFP, the company did not react immediately.

Facebook blocked in Russia

Russia blocked Facebook on its territory last week, in retaliation for the Californian group’s decision to ban media close to the government (including the RT channel and the Sputnik site) in Europe. She has joined the very closed club of countries banning the largest social network in the world, alongside China and North Korea. Access to Twitter is heavily restricted in Russia for reasons similar to the blocking of Facebook.

A law punishing by up to fifteen years in prison the dissemination of information aimed at “discreditRussian military forces or calls to sanction Moscow were also upvoted last week. Under pressure from Ukrainian politicians and activist groups, the majority of US tech stalwarts have cut ties with Moscow since the invasion of Ukraine began. Microsoft and Apple have suspended their product sales in the country, while Netflix, Intel and Airbnb have suspended their activities there.

On Thursday, Google, which already no longer sells advertising in Russia, announced to app developers that it would suspend “in the next few dayspayment options on its online store in the country, preventing users from purchasing apps, games or digital goods. Russian users could still download and use the free apps.


SEE ALSO – War in Ukraine: Russian regulator blocks Facebook and “restricts access” to Twitter

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