According to reports about upcoming policy changes on Facebook, expected to be announced on Friday, politicians may soon lose their special status protecting them from fact-checking and censorship, forcing them to follow content moderation rules that apply to other users, The Guardian writes.
Facebook accounts of politicians and public figures will be treated just like everyone else’s, and the platform ”will disclose when a special newsworthiness exemption is invoked to shield them from having violating” content deleted, The Verge reported on Thursday.
The announced changes come as Facebook faces increased criticism for allowing world leaders and politicians to use its platform to spread misinformation, quash criticism and harass opponents.
They were reportedly prompted by last month’s report by the Oversight Board Zuckerberg set up to act like a supreme court of sorts for the platform. Facebook have until June 5 to respond to policy recommendations by the Board.
Oversight Board affirmed its decision to support its recently advice that Donald Trump’s Facebook account should not be reinstated. Facebook had suspended Trump’s account after he shared posts in which he allegedly praised the rioters who stormed the U.S. capitol in the deadly 6 January riots.
The board said that Trump’s indefinite suspension was an indeterminate and standardless penalty, reminding Facebook that its normal practices are to either remove the violating content, impose a time-limited suspension, or permanently ban the user.
Facebook was given six months by the Board to decide on a proportionate response in the Trump case, which could see the former president’s account restored, permanently blocked or suspended for a definite period of time, but the platform hasn’t yet announced a final decision.
The changes allegedly also involve notifying users when they get a “strike” for violating Facebook’s content rules before their accounts were deleted – even if that doesn’t help them to avoid bans or censorship in practice.
Big Tech has recently responded to Republicans’ accusations that social media platforms of censorship motivated by bias by backing a study saying otherwise. However, Facebook said it wouldn’t donate to any Republicans who dared question the sanctity of the 2020 election after it removed the temporary ban on donating to politicians last week.