Updated Mar 11, 2022 - Technology

Facebook, Instagram loosen some hate speech restrictions amid Russian invasion

Photo of a phone screen that shows the Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp apps

Photo: Chesnot via Getty Images

Facebook and Instagram have loosened some hate speech restrictions as a result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, parent company Meta said Thursday.

Driving the news: "[W]e 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,'" a Meta spokesperson said in a statement. "We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians."

Details: The policy change will allow users in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine to issue calls for violence against Russian soldiers, Reuters first reported Thursday.

  • Users in those regions will also be allowed to use language targeting Russians in posts that clearly denote the context of the invasion.
  • Calls for the deaths of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko will be permitted unless the posts include other targets or two indicators of credibility, such as location, according to internal emails obtained by Reuters.

The big picture: Russia blocked Facebook entirely last week and has made similar crackdowns on other Western tech companies.

What they're saying: "We demand that 🇺🇸 authorities stop the extremist activities of @Meta," the Russian Embassy in D.C. tweeted late Thursday.

  • Representatives for Meta and the Biden administration did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with comment from the Russian Embassy.

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