Facebook to temporarily allow posts calling for violence against Russian soldiers and politicians

What happened now? Facebook and Instagram are cracking down on anyone who posts anything that promotes violence or death against others, but this is a temporary exception. Users in some countries will be allowed to call for harm or even death to Russian soldiers and politicians, such as Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Reuters reports that Meta has sent out internal emails to Facebook and Instagram content moderators confirming a change in its hate speech policy. “As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have temporarily allowed for forms of political expression that normally violate our rules, such as aggressive language such as ‘death to the Russian occupiers,’” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.

Any calls for violence against Russian civilians remain banned. “The hate speech policy continues to prohibit attacks on Russians,” the email confirmed.

The rules calling for the death of leaders are slightly different. These messages are allowed, provided they do not include other targets or have “two qualifiers” such as location or method.

“These are temporary measures designed to preserve the voice and expression of people who are at risk of being invaded. As always, we prohibit calls for violence against Russians outside the narrow context of the current invasion,” Meta added.

The policy change only applies to users in certain countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

“We are issuing a policy clearance to allow T1 hate speech that would otherwise be removed under the hate speech policy when: (a) targeting Russian soldiers EXCEPT POWs, or (b) targeting Russians there, where possible. it is clear that the context is the Russian invasion of Ukraine (for example, the content mentions the invasion, self-defense, etc.),” the letter says.

The report also said the change was due to “Russian soldiers” being used as proxies for the Russian military.

The change is not unprecedented. Vice informed that Facebook allowed people to post the words “Death to Khamenei” or show videos of people saying or repeating the phrase for a limited two-week period last year.

The Russian Embassy in the US responded to the policy change with a Twitter statement calling on US authorities to stop Meta’s “extremist activities”. “The users of #Facebook and #Instagram did not give the owners of these platforms the right to determine the criteria of truth and pit nations against each other,” the embassy wrote on Twitter.

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube were blocked by the Russian government after the invasion of Ukraine. In the case of Facebook, this came after the social network blocked the state media RT and Sputnik in the European Union. Meta also began to downvote content from Facebook and Instagram accounts around the world that were associated with Russian state media.

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