Facebook changing hate speech, voter suppression policies

More than 100 brands join advertising boycott on the platform

Facebook is changing a number of policies relating to hate speech and voter suppression on the platform, the chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, said in a surprise live video on Friday.

The announcements were made in a hurried appearance by the executive on his personal Facebook page shortly after Unilever announced that it was pulling advertisements for the next six months – which sent Facebook stock tumbling more than 7 per cent.

More than 100 brands have joined a boycott of advertising on Facebook due to its failure to address hate speech and violence on the platform – most recently the major advertisers Verizon and Unilever.

Facebook will now take on an approach similar to that of Twitter, labelling posts that may violate its policies but are allowed to remain on the platform because they are deemed newsworthy.


Voting information centre

The platform will also include a link to its voting information centre on any post with information about voting, including by politicians: “This is not a judgement of whether the posts themselves are accurate,” Mr Zuckerberg said.

The new policies come as a reversal from Facebook’s previous stances. As recently as last week the company made clear that Facebook does not consider much of the language that Trump uses to suppress voting to be voter suppression, defending Trump’s posts as being “legitimate debate”.

Mr Zuckerberg also said in the video that posts that “may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote” will be removed regardless of who posts them or whether they may be considered newsworthy.

“I’m optimistic that we’re going to be able to make progress on these challenges,” Mr Zuckerberg said. “I think we’re going to be able to do that while maintaining our democratic traditions around free expression and voting, and I’m committed to making sure that Facebook is a force for good on this journey.” - Guardian