Facebook, Instagram to allow some threats against Putin, others

Russia At War

(NewsNation) — In a departure from recent efforts by Facebook to police hate speech, internal company emails revealed they will allow threats against Russian President Vladimir Putin — though not universally.

The social media giant and its parent company, Meta, have come under fire in recent years for not doing enough about hate speech and potential threats of violence with criticism ramping up in the wake of the riots at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

The internal emails showed Facebook and Instagram users in some countries will be allowed to post calls for violence against Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and even Russian soldiers. The only caveat is that the posts have to be made in the context of the invasion of Ukraine.

“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 to The Hill.

The calls for death will reportedly not be allowed if they contain other targets or if they have two indicators of credible threats, such as the location or method. 

The internal emails reveal users from the following countries will be allowed to post threats: Armenia, Hungary, Romania, Azerbaijan, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Slovakia, Georgia.

The new policy is a hard turn from the company’s hate speech policy, which does not allow targeting people with violent speech in written or visual form. In this new and temporary policy, Meta clarified on Thursday that advocating for violence against Russian civilians would not be tolerated.

The Russian embassy in the United States has demanded that Washington put a stop to Meta’s “extremist activities.” The Investigative Committee of Russia announced through spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko that the Russian government had opened a criminal case in response to the “unlawful calls for murder and violence against Russian citizens on the part of Meta company employees.”

It’s unclear what the outcome of the Russian criminal investigation would mean for the tech giant.

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