Facebook and Instagram will temporarily alter its hate speech policy to allow users in some countries to call for violence against Russia due to the Ukraine invasion.
According to internal mails seen by Reuters, the social media giant will also allow posts calling for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Soldiers 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.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.
The change in policy will be applicable for people using the platforms from Ukraine, Russia, Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. The policy changes for violence calls to Russian soldiers apply to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine, according to one of the emails.
“We are issuing a spirit-of-the-policy allowance to allow T1 violent speech that would otherwise be removed under the Hate Speech policy when: (a) targeting Russian soldiers, EXCEPT prisoners of war, or (b) targeting Russians where it’s clear that the context is the Russian invasion of Ukraine (e.g., content mentions the invasion, self-defense, etc.),” the email said.
“We are doing this because we have observed that in this specific context, ‘Russian soldiers’ is being used as a proxy for the Russian military. The Hate Speech policy continues to prohibit attacks on Russians.”
Typically, Facebook moderation guidelines call for the removal of rhetoric that dehumanizes or attacks a particular group based on its identity. However, according to the emails obtained by Reuters, the current scenario necessitates reading posts from the mentioned countries concerning generic Russian soldiers to mean the Russian military as a whole, and moderators are instructed not to take action unless reliable allegations are attached.
Russia announced last week announced a Facebook ban due to what it claimed were limits on access to Russian media on the platform.