Facebook says it won’t remove posts from politicians even if they violate community rules

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Facebook announced Tuesday it intends to keep up all posts from politicians, even if they violate the social media giant’s community rules, arguing that such statements from political figures are “newsworthy.”

During a speech in Washington, D.C., Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications Nick Clegg announced that the company is taking an official stance on how to handle controversial speech from politicians on its platform.

{mosads}”From now on we will treat speech from politicians as newsworthy content that should, as a general rule, be seen and heard,” Clegg said in a post.

Clegg noted that Facebook also does not submit posts by politicians to its third-party fact-checking program, which allows outside companies to flag certain posts as misleading or false.

“We do not submit speech by politicians to our independent fact-checkers, and we generally allow it on the platform even when it would otherwise breach our normal content rules,” Clegg said during the speech.

“Of course, there are exceptions,” he added. “Broadly speaking they are two-fold: where speech endangers people; and where we take money, which is why we have more stringent rules on advertising than we do for ordinary speech and rhetoric.”

Facebook still requires all advertisers — even political campaigns — to adhere to its community guidelines, which include prohibitions on hate speech and extremism.

Only a few months ago, Twitter announced it will soon start tagging, but not removing, tweets from world leaders that violate the platform’s rules.

Twitter has been placing disclaimers on tweets from top government officials or high-profile candidates when they violate any of Twitter’s rules, but do not remove the posts under the assumption that they are in the “public interest.”

Facebook has long held that most posts from public figures should remain up because they are “newsworthy,” even when they violate the platform’s guidelines. But the companies have been under increasing pressure to address why some posts are allowed to remain up when top politicians break the rules around harassment or hateful content.

President Trump in particular has faced heat from Democrats and other critics over his use of social media, particularly Twitter, which he regularly uses to berate his foes. But any attempt to remove content from politicians would likely be met with criticism from Republicans and the president, who have long held that the top tech companies systematically discriminate against them.

The companies have continually pushed back against those allegations, saying there is little evidence to substantiate them.

“I know some people will say we should go further,” Clegg said. “That we are wrong to allow politicians to use our platform to say nasty things or make false claims. But imagine the reverse.”

“Would it be acceptable to society at large to have a private company in effect become a self-appointed referee for everything that politicians say?” he said. “I don’t believe it would be. In open democracies, voters rightly believe that, as a general rule, they should be able to judge what politicians say themselves.”

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