Seems like Facebook Inc. has finally decided to stop drawing a line of privilege between those who are in power and those who aren’t, in theory anyway.
A report by The Verge has revealed that soon, political figures on Facebook might no longer be exempt from the content moderation rules that apply to regular (that is, non-political) folk on the platform.
The move comes after former US President Donald Trump was permanently banned from the social media service following his involvement in instigating so-called “activists” to storm the US Capitol earlier this year. With this move, the company hopes to let go of a highly controversial policy which, until now, has served as a shield of sorts for politicians, protecting them from being held accountable for their words.
The driving force for the shift in strategy has been the criticism that the social media giant has recently had to face at the hands of its independent Oversight Board. While the members of the Board hailed its decision to suspend Trump’s account, they also called the company out for giving “special treatment” to politicians, giving it until June 5 to accede to their recommendations. Consequently, the change might be announced today itself, and could have a significant bearing on the future of how our “elected reps” behave on social media.
Another new course of action that the platform might take could mean an increased transparency into the method it uses to strike out accounts that break content rules. As such, users can soon expect to be formally notified in case they ever receive a strike for violating the guidelines, which could lead to their suspension.
This comes even after CEO Mark Zuckerberg had himself spoken in opposition to “policing” of the speech and content posted by political figures. His words aren’t surprising, especially when one considers how the service has long refrained from monitoring the words of elected officials and office-bearers.
It might be worth noting that although the new rules won’t be all-encompassing (questionable speech by politicians might sometimes still be exempted on grounds of “special newsworthiness”), now, the team at FB will make it known to the masses when such a thing happens. This will help people keep a clearer track of what the platform deems worthy of “being seen and heard”.
Additionally, certain content posted by politicians, such as links to news articles or videos, has already been under a fact-check system for the past few years. However, the same fact-check techniques will not be applicable to original content posted by politicians even under the new terms of the policy.
Nevertheless, rules against actions like explicit bullying will, for the first time, be imposed on their posts, in addition to those against things like child pornography, which are already in place under the current system.