WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Meta will allow Facebook and Instagram posts that call for Putin’s death and violence against Russians.
- Meta said that this is a temporary change to its hate speech policy.
- The calls for death and violence only apply to Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania.
Meta Platforms will allow Facebook and Instagram users in selected countries to call for violence against Russian soldiers and civilians. The temporary change to the platforms’ hate speech policy is only allowed if the posts are in the context of the Ukraine invasion.
Facebook and Instagram will also allow calls for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, according to internal emails seen by Reuters.
“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement.
The calls for death will not be allowed if they contain other targets or if they have two indicators of credible threats, such as the location or method.
Citing the Reuters story, Russia’s embassy in the United States demanded that Washington stop the “extremist activities” of Meta.
“Users of Facebook & 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 said on Twitter in a message that was also shared by their India office.
The temporary policy changes only apply to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine, according to one email.
Last week, Russia said it would block Facebook in the country due to the platform’s restrictions on Russian state-controlled media, which Moscow called a form of “discrimination.”
Many major social media platforms have announced new content restrictions around the conflict, including blocking Russian state media RT and Sputnik in the European Union, and have demonstrated carve-outs in some of their policies during the war.
Emails also showed that Meta would allow praise of the right-wing Azov battalion, which is normally prohibited. The news was first reported by The Intercept.
The Meta spokesperson previously said the company was “for the time being, making a narrow exception for praise of the Azov Regiment strictly in the context of defending Ukraine, or in their role as part of the Ukraine National Guard.”