Jun 26, 2020 - Technology

Facebook to label newsworthy posts that otherwise break its rules

A photo of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg giving a speech.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook will begin labelling posts that break its rules but are deemed "newsworthy" — for instance, because they come from public figures — CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Friday.

Why it matters: This is Facebook's attempt to thread the needle between allowing inflammatory posts from politicians and tamping down on problematic content.

Context: The company previously let figures like President Trump freely post material that appeared to violate policies around issues like targeted harassment and hate speech.

  • The new policy echoes Twitter's approach to such content, which has drawn ire from Trump and other conservatives.

Details: During a livestream of a company town hall meeting Friday, Zuckerberg compared the new label to how news outlets report on what a politician says.

  • Users will still be able to share the content, but Facebook will add a prompt telling people that it may violate company's policies.
  • Zuckerberg emphasized that there is no newsworthy exemption to posts that violate Facebooks' policies on content that may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote.
  • "We're going to take that content down no matter who says it," Zuckerberg said.

What they're saying: "A handful of times a year, we make a decision to leave up content that would otherwise violate our policies because we consider that the public interest value outweighs the risk of that content," Zuckerberg said. "And you know often here, seeing speech from politicians is in the public interest."

Other changes Zuckerberg announced include attaching a link to Facebook's Voting Information Center on posts that discuss voting, and prohibiting a wider category of hateful content in ads.

  • That includes banning claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the safety or health of others.
  • The policy change is also aimed at better protecting immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads that would denigrate them.
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