Explainer: Ahead of Trump’s Facebook Decision, Here’s How Social Media Sites Deal With Global Leaders
Facebook’s independent supervisory board will announce on Wednesday whether it rescinds the company’s suspension of former US President Donald Trump’s account. The long-awaited decision will bring attention back to how the world’s largest social network decides what global leaders and politicians can and cannot say on their platforms.
Here’s how big tech companies are dealing with this thorny issue:
WHO BENEFITS FROM SPECIAL TREATMENT?
Facebook Inc (FB.O) and Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) currently have rules that give world leaders, elected officials and political candidates more leeway than ordinary users.
Facebook defines politicians as candidates for office, current office holders and many cabinet members, as well as political parties and their leaders. Twitter public interest rules Apply to government officials or verified elected officials, their successors and nominees, registered political parties or candidates for public office with more than 100,000 followers.
WHAT ARE THE CURRENT RULES?
Twitter says it is wrong to leave content in place when it is in the public interest, including keeping a ledger to hold executives accountable. It also allows leaders to interact with other public figures and engage in “foreign policy saber-rattling”.
In March, Twitter began adding warnings and restricting the scope of tweets from certain world leaders that would be deleted if sent by the average user. Twitter also says it removes tweets from world leaders for offenses such as promoting terrorism or posting private information.
Facebook is exempting politicians’ posts and paid ads from its third-party fact-checking program, though it has started putting separate labels, for example, notices about the rarity of voter fraud on some of Trump’s posts around. of the election.
The company’s “notoriety exemption” also allows politicians to post rule-breaking articles on the site if the public interest outweighs the harm. (https://bit.ly/3aY0RN2)
Facebook, which had at times removed Trump’s content for violations such as COVID-19 disinformation prior to its ban, has faced backlash from employees for its inaction on inflammatory messages, including one during anti-racist protests saying that “when the looting begins, the shooting begins”.
Alphabet Inc’s YouTube (GOOGL.O) claims that it has no different rules for world leaders, although its exception for “educational” or “documentary” content allows for some media coverage of politicians making statements. statements breaking the rules.
So what happened with TRUMP?
After the Jan.6 Capitol riot, Twitter banned Trump for breaking his “glorification of violence” rules, deviating somewhat from the previous one to account for possible interpretations of his tweets. Read more
Facebook has indefinitely blocked Trump’s accounts on its platforms. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the current environment meant the risks of allowing him to use the service were “just too great”.
A slew of online platforms have banned the former president, including Snapchat (SNAP.N), which had previously removed him from its Discover program, and Amazon-owned Twitch (AMZN.O), which l ‘had previously suspended for hate content in June.
YouTube also gave Trump’s channel its very first strike after the riot. This would normally come with a one-week suspension, but the account remains frozen for months later. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the suspension will be lifted when the company determines that the risk of real-world violence has decreased. Read more
WHAT ABOUT OTHER GLOBAL LEADERS?
Human rights groups have argued that tech companies must apply the standards consistently to other world leaders.
Facebook’s suspension of Trump follows bans in recent years by some government officials, including in India and Myanmar for promoting violence, but the company has never previously blocked a president, prime minister, or head of government. ‘Current state.
Leaders who have drawn particular public scrutiny but remain active on social media sites include Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who used Twitter to call for Israel’s elimination and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who posted on Facebook that Indigenous citizens were “evolving” and becoming more human. (https://reut.rs/3gWRnW1)
In March, Facebook froze Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s page for 30 days for spreading false information about COVID-19. Maduro and Bolsonaro have already seen content deleted by Facebook and Twitter for this reason during the pandemic. Read more
Earlier this year, Facebook banned the Burmese military from accessing the site after they took power in a coup. UN human rights investigators have previously said the platform has played a key role in fomenting violence in Myanmar.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Facebook and Twitter have both called for contributing to their rules after coming under scrutiny over their handling of the U.S. presidential election and the storming of Capitol Hill by pro-Trump supporters.
Facebook has asked its supervisory board to make recommendations alongside the Trump decision, while Twitter has launched a public inquiry. Read more
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