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Facebook to end policy shielding politicians from content moderation rules: reports

CALIFORNIA (thehill): Facebook is slated to announced that the social media platform will end a policy that largely shielded politicians from repercussions when they violated the site’s hate speech rules, a person familiar with the decision told The Washington Post.

Facebook could announce the change as soon as Friday, according to The Verge, the first outlet to report the news.

As part of the policy change, the company will no longer value the newsworthiness of a politician’s post over its hate speech guidelines. When it does keep a post up due to its newsworthiness, the company will make the decision public, according to the Post.

The move comes after the Oversight Board said the “same rules should apply to all users” after ruling that former President Trump should remain suspended from the platform for violating its content moderation guidelines.

Two people with knowledge of the changes told the Verge that along with the rules change for politicians, regular users will be alerted about strikes that could result in their account’s suspension.

Internally, Facebook gave accounts strikes in order to determine when a user’s content has gone too far and should be suspended, but the user was not aware when they received a strike.

Facebook garnered intense criticism in the past for its decision to keep politicians’ accounts active despite breaking content moderation policy.

Trump was ultimately kicked off the platform at the end of his presidency due to his repeated, unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and posts during Capitol riot on Jan. 6.

The Facebook Oversight Board, an independent Facebook-funded panel, ruled in May that Trump should continue to be suspended from the platform. However, the board said an indefinite suspension was not an appropriate response and that it must be reviewed at a later date.

Facebook needs a “proportionate response that is consistent with the rules that are applied to other users of its platform,” the board said at the time.

“Within six months of this decision, Facebook must reexamine the arbitrary penalty it imposed on January 7 and decide the appropriate penalty,” it added.

During an interview last month, Michael McConnell, a member of the Facebook Oversight Board backed up the panel’s reasoning to uphold the suspension, stating that Trump made “perfunctory [calls] asking for peace, but really he was just egging them on” during the riot.

The Hill has reached out to Facebook for comment.