Facebook announced Friday a major change to its content moderation policies. It stated that posts by politicians will not be exempted from the company’s rules that prohibit users from engaging in harmful speech.
The company also announced Friday that ex-President Donald Trump would remain suspended from the platform for a period of two years starting from the Jan. 7 suspension.
Facebook stated that it will not treat political content as being inherently newsworthy or of public interest. These posts will be monitored as any other user.
Facebook will continue to provide an exemption from newsworthiness for political and other user content in very rare instances, but it will start publishing regular updates about when it does so for transparency.
Facebook’s announcement marks a 180-degree turn. The company had previously pledged to protect free speech and claimed that it shouldn’t be considered an arbiter or truth. In the run-up to the 2020 U.S. Election, Facebook made the controversial decision that it would allow politicians to post ads on Facebook, even if they contained misinformation.
Facebook stated that it will take into account the severity and influence of public figures on the public when suspending accounts for violating Facebook community standards. The length of their accounts being suspended could be from one month up to two years. Facebook may permanently disable an account in extreme cases, it said.
After Facebook’s May decision by its independent Oversight Board to confirm the company’s suspension of Trump’s Instagram and Facebook accounts, the new policies are now in place. The board did however note that Facebook must reevaluate how it moderates the speech of political leaders, and provide clear guidelines for the public.
Barkha Jain is founder of TechVerbal. She is a techy nerd who loves to write about technology, new gadgets and crypto. She loves to travel and watch movies in her free time.