Facebook to end exceptions that shield politicians from content moderation

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Facebook will soon end its policy that offered special protection mostly to politicians and elected officials from content moderation rules.

Facebook to end exceptions that shield politicians from content moderation

Facebook will soon end its policy that offered special protection mostly to politicians and elected officials from content moderation rules. The social media giant is expected to make an announcement following recommendations made by its oversight board.

Facebook has been asked to decide by June 5 on its policy recommendations with an emphasis on “same rules should apply to all users”.

The oversight board upheld Facebook's decision on January 7 to suspend then US President Donald Trump from its main platform and Instagram. Facebook had blocked President Trump following the January 6 capitol riots when he had used Facebook to praise his supporters as they made a desperate attempt to take over the US Capitol.

In India, the platform was hauled up when they did not act against members of the ruling party after they had posted allegedly violent comments.

After the independent group’s recommendation, the platform has plans to disclose when it uses a “special newsworthiness exemption” to retain the content of politicians that could otherwise violate its policies.

The social network also plans to reveal the system of strikes it gives accounts for breaking its content rules. The first step would be to inform users they have received a strike for violation of rules and that it could lead to a possible suspension as per a report by The Verge.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has long argued that the company should not police politicians' speech. Even Twitter believes politicians and elected officials should be given a wider berth when it comes to their speeches when compared to the common user.

Last October, Facebook's former Public Policy Director, India, South, and Central Asia, Ankhi Das, was hauled up by a panel after reports that she had interfered with Facebook’s content moderation policies and favoured the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. She had been with Facebook since 2011.

The company denied the allegations stating she had quit for career progression. Ajit Mohan, the Managing Director of Facebook said in a statement, "Ankhi has decided to step down from her role in Facebook to pursue her interest in public service."

Facebook India’s policy for political ads

Facebook makes it clear that all political ads must carry the tags “sponsored by” or “paid for by,” followed by the identity of the spender. In India, the level of scrutiny is more compared to the US. An advertiser in India should submit an Indian government-issued ID be it a Voter ID number or the Permanent Account Number (PAN) and must also provide a “mail-deliverable street address,” a phone number and a business email.

These policies have largely come into effect after the 2016 US presidential election campaign that many suspects have won due to foreign interference.

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