Meta Bars Calls For Death Of Head Of State In Policy Shift

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Meta narrows Facebook and Instagram rules to bar calls for death of head of state, while allowing other ‘calls for violence’

Facebook parent company Meta has said in internal documents that it is narrowing its content moderation policy for Ukraine to prohibit calls for the death of a head of state.

The move on Sunday came after Meta last week said it would temporarily allow some “calls for violence” on Facebook and Instagram, in the context of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In countries such as Poland and Ukraine Meta said it would temporarily allow posts such as “death to the Russian invaders”, as well as calls for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Meta said it would be wrong to prevent Ukrainians from “expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces”.

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Image credit: Facebook

Policy shift

In response, Russia opened a criminal case against Meta on Friday.

In an internal company post, Meta global affairs president Nick Clegg said the new guidance would make it “explicitly clear” that posts could never condone “violence against Russians in general”, Reuters reported.

“We also do not permit calls to assassinate a head of state… So, in order to remove any ambiguity about our stance, we are further narrowing our guidance to make explicit that we are not allowing calls for the death of a head of state on our platforms,” Clegg wrote.

“These are difficult decisions,” he added. “Circumstances in Ukraine are fast moving. We try to think through all the consequences, and we keep our guidance under constant review because the context is always evolving.”

He said there would be no change to policies on hate speech regarding the Russian people.

Hate speech

“Meta stands against Russophobia. We have no tolerance for calls for genocide, ethnic cleansing, or any kind of discrimination, harassment, or violence towards Russians on our platform,” Clegg said.

He said Meta plans to refer its actions regarding the guidance for content moderators to its company-appointed independent oversight board, set up to monitor questions around freedom of expression.

Following last week’s policy change, Russia on Friday banned Instagram in a move that took effect at midnight on Sunday.

The country’s communications regulator was already blocking Facebook after the platform restricted access to Russian state media outlets RT and Sputnik in the European Union.

So far Meta’s WhatsApp, the country’s most popular messaging platform, has not been blocked in Russia.