In a quite staggering act of double standards, Meta, the parent company of Facebook has apparently sent emails to Facebook’s moderators to allow posts from certain countries that call for the deaths of Russian soldiers, even going so far as allowing posts calling for the deaths of Russia’s President Putin and Belarusian President Lukashenko. So, Facebook users posting from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine are able to post threats of death with impunity, according to Reuters news agency.
It’s difficult to know how to view this policy. Is it a tit-for-tat following Russia’s blocking of Facebook? In which case, the corporation is stepping into dangerous territory. It’s one thing to block a sitting US president, but quite another to turn a blind eye to Facebook posts calling for the deaths of soldiers and heads of state. Surely if you impose policies against hate speech, and let’s face it, this new policy goes way beyond hate speech, regardless of opinion, surely it should be across the board?
Social media is the primary source of communication nowadays for millions of people around the world and clearly, corporations wield a great deal of power in this respect. But it’s also true that that power is selective, as evidenced in this move by Facebook. I would even go as far as saying that the policy incites violence and hate speech — two fundamental areas that I always thought Facebook had railed against. On the other hand, if I were so inclined, I could create a new Facebook account over a VPN putting myself in Latvia or Ukraine and issue as many death threats against soldiers, heads of state, and others as I liked. Has that fact not even occurred to Facebook’s executives?
Meta has very recently updated its policy in its Transparency Center under Violence and Incitement, where it clearly states that you should not post death threats:
But, and it’s a very big but, if you stray from Facebook’s nebulous terms and conditions, or are alleged to have posted so-called, abusive information such as a link to How To Build Your Own Computer, you are censored for life. This is the position that DCT finds itself in, so I have to beg the question — do I really want to be associated with a corporation that endorses selective death threats, yet bans computer-related articles on the simple subject of building a home PC? I don’t think so. But on the other hand, were I to scratch my Facebook presence from existence, I would deprive myself of a critical and objective stance, and of course the ability to call out this troubled and sinister organisation, so I shall remain, albeit grudgingly.