Facebook Inc is proposing to abolish a provision that exempts politicians from some content moderation standards, in what would be a huge policy shift for the world's largest social media network, according to a Verge report
The reported move comes as Facebook prepares to respond to suggestions made by the company's independent monitoring board in its decision on former US President Donald Trump's suspension. A spokesman for Facebook declined to comment on The Verge's claim.
In recent years, tech platforms have struggled with how to regulate international leaders and politicians who break their rules. According to Facebook and Twitter Inc, politicians should have more freedom on social media platforms than average users.
Following the January 6 Capitol riot, Facebook's oversight board, an independent group funded by the company that can overrule its decisions in a small number of content moderation cases, recently upheld the social media giant's block on Trump but said it was wrong to make the suspension indefinite.
It also made non-binding suggestions, to which Facebook is required to respond fully by Friday. The board stated that all users should be subject to the same regulations, despite leaders of state and government officials having greater capacity to hurt.
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has long contended that businesses should not regulate politicians' speech. Politicians' posts and ads are currently exempt from the company's third-party fact-checking program. Its "newsworthiness exemption" allows politicians' rule-breaking posts on the site if the public interest outweighs the harm, though Facebook said it did not apply for its newsworthiness allowance in the Trump case.
In its recommendations, the board emphasized that "newsworthiness" should not take precedence when urgent action on the platform is required to prevent "severe harm."
The board also stated that Facebook's existing policies, such as determining when content is too newsworthy to be removed or when to take action against an influential account, should be made more obvious to users.
Those who believe Facebook should forsake its hands-off attitude to political expression have criticized the company. However, it has been attacked by some who see the Trump ban as a worrisome act of censorship, including Republican politicians and certain free-expression advocates.
The board gave Facebook six months to decide on a "proportionate response" in the Trump case, which could include restoring, permanently blocking, or temporarily suspending the former president's account.
Facebook has yet to make a judgment on whether or not the former president will be reinstated on the social media network.