The Russia-Ukraine conflict has for the past few weeks seen major government powerhouses and nations condemn the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. It saw series of sanctions meted against Russia, one of them is majority of global tech companies halting their operations in the Putin-led country.
Meta, one of the tech platforms that had placed sanctions on Russia in the wake of the assault on Ukraine has on Thursday modified its approach to hate speech by allowing violent comments on its platforms targeted at Russian authorities.
The Facebook-parent company said it would allow on its platforms comments such as “death to Russian invaders” but not credible threats against civilians.
This as expected drew the ire of Russian authorities, with the Russian embassy in the U.S. on Friday urging that Washington stop the “extremist activities” of platform.
The relaxation Meta’s hate speech rule included permission for calls for the killing of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, provided they don’t have threats toward others or “indicators of credibility” like saying where or how the act will take place.
Is there a Brutus in Russia? Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military?
The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.
You would be doing your country – and the world – a great service.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) March 4, 2022
The infuriated Russian Embassy in the U.S in a statement reacting to the decision by Meta said:
“Meta’s criminal and aggressive leading to the provocation of hostility and hatred towards Russians is outrageous. The company’s actions are yet another evidence of the information war without rules declared on our country.”
But Meta Inc remained unfazed with the backlash from the Russian quarters as it defended its policy decision through a statement by its spokesperson Andy Stone.
In the words of Stone:
“The Russian invasion of Ukraine resulted in the company temporarily making allowances for forms of political expression that would break our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders. We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.”
This policy applies to Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, Slovakia, Romania, and Hungary, the report confirmed.
It appears another social media giant; Twitter is in synch with Meta’s decision as it failed to remove a tweet from U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham calling for the assassination of President Putin.
He had tweeted March 3:
“The only way this end is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out”.
Facebook may have anticipated exceptions like this as its hate speech policy includes many carve-outs and exceptions, and they explicitly stated that additional information or context is needed before the enforcement of the policy in several cases, including the Facebook community standards regarding hate speech and violence and incitement, which has continued to receive updates since the company started publishing them publicly in 2018.