Meta Allows Calls For Violence Against Putin And Russian Soldiers

Twitter blocks two tweets from Russian embassy in London about bombing of Mariupol hospital, as Meta eases restrictions on violence threats against Putin

Social networking giant Meta will allow Facebook and Instagram users in certain countries to call for violence against Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Russian soldiers.

With war crimes by the Russian military being reported on a daily basis inside Ukraine, public anger around the world against Russia and President Putin continues to mount.

Meta has therefore had made a temporary change to its hate speech policy, after Reuters on Thursday saw internal emails from Meta to its content moderators.


Violent speech

Meta has therefore decided that Facebook and Instagram users in some countries can call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion.

Meta is even temporarily allowing some posts that call for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

“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’” a Meta spokesperson told Reuters. “We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”

The calls for the leaders’ deaths will be allowed unless they contain other targets or have two indicators of credibility, such as the location or method, one email said, in a recent change to the company’s rules on violence and incitement.

Citing the Reuters story, Russia’s embassy in the United States demanded that Washington stop the “extremist activities” of Meta.

The temporary policy changes on calls for violence to Russian soldiers apply to countries such as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.

At the moment, access to Twitter is restricted in Russia, and Facebook is blocked completely in Russia, in a respond to the tech platforms blocking Putin’s state-backed media outlets.

Russian embassy

Twitter meanwhile has joined BBC and Facebook and set up a site on the Dark Web, so Russian users can bypass Moscow’s restrictions and access factual, uncensored news content.

Twitter meanwhile has removed two posts by the Russian embassy in London which claimed the bombing of a Ukrainian hospital by Russian forces had been faked.

The Mariupol hospital was attacked on Wednesday, leaving three people dead, in an attack that is being investigated as another war crime by the Russian military.

The embassy’s tweets made unfounded claims the hospital was not operational at the time, and that injured women pictured at the scene were actors.

Both of these claims are false, and the offending tweets continues to demonstrate the ongoing disinformation campaign carried out by Putin’s Russia.

Pictures of the Russian embassy tweet were shared by the Guardian newspaper.

It comes 10 Downing Street accused the embassy of posting disinformation on Twitter

“It is clear that this is further disinformation,” a spokesperson for Boris Johnson was quoted by the Guardian as telling reporters. “You have seen the pictures of the people who were wounded during that attack, and you have seen what the prime minister said in his tweet yesterday.”

A spokesperson for Twitter told the Guardian it had taken enforcement action against the tweets “as they were in violation of the Twitter Rules, specifically our Hateful Conduct and Abusive Behavior policies related to the denial of violent events.”

That said, Twitter has still not banned several accounts linked to Russian government organisations – including Vladimir Putin’s official Twitter account.

The Russian embassy account also remains active.