Saturday, September 30

Facebook and Instagram allow calls for violence against Putin and Russian soldiers

Meta, the parent company of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, has begun allowing calls for violence against Russian soldiers and invaders of Ukraine to take place on its platforms, according to a series of emails it has had exclusive access to. the Reuters agency. This is a temporary change in its hate speech policy that will affect only some countries and also includes posts calling for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

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“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have temporarily permitted forms of political expression that would normally violate our standards, such as violent ‘death to Russian invaders’ speech. We continue to disallow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.

These temporary policy changes on calls for violence against Russian soldiers apply in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine, according to one of the emails to the that the agency has accessed. Calls to the death of leaders will be allowed unless they contain other objectives or have two credibility indicators, such as location or method, according to an email, in a recent change to the company’s rules on violence and incitement.

In another email recently sent to moderators, Meta highlighted a change in its policy of hate speech not targeting Russian soldiers, if not Russians in the context of the invasion. “We are issuing a permit for violent speech that would otherwise be removed under the Hate Speech policy when: (a) it is directed at Russian soldiers, EXCEPT prisoners of war, or (b) it is directed at Russians when it is clear that the context is the Russian invasion of Ukraine (for example, the content mentions the invasion, self-defense, etc.),” ​​the email explained.

“We do this because we have observed that in this specific context, ‘Russian soldiers’ is used as a synonym for ‘Russian military.’ The hate speech policy continues to prohibit attacks on Russians,” the same email added.

Praise the Azov battalion

The emails also showed that Meta accessed by Reuters also confirm that Facebook and Instagram allow praise for the neo-Nazi Azov battalion, information published early in the Russian invasion. by The Intercept. Until now, praising this group of combatants was prohibited by the rules and terms of use of the Meta platforms due to their links with the extreme right.

“At the moment, we are making a small exception to praise the Azov Regiment strictly in the context of the defense of Ukraine, or in its role as part of the National Guard of Ukraine,” a company spokesman explained at the time.

The Reuters revelations come just a week after the Kremlin blocked Facebook in its territory (although not Instagram), as well as Twitter and TikTok users from uploading new content in Russia. Following the publication of this news, the Russian embassy in Washington has issued a complaint about the “extremist activities” of Meta: “Facebook and Instagram users did not give the owners of these platforms the right to determine the criteria of truth since pit nations against each other,” the embassy posted on Twitter.