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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has responded to a boycott from major advertisers including consumer giant Unilever, which have pulled ads from the social network in an attempt to force the platform to censor more constitutionally protected speech.
In a post on his personal page, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised to add “warning labels” to posts from political figures that violate the platform’s rules, a similar policy that Twitter has used to censor President Donald Trump’s tweets.
A handful of times a year, we leave up content that would otherwise violate our policies if the public interest value outweighs the risk of harm. Often, seeing speech from politicians is in the public interest, and in the same way that news outlets will report what a politician says, we think people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms.
We will soon start labeling some of the content we leave up because it is deemed newsworthy, so people can know when this is the case. We’ll allow people to share this content to condemn it, just like we do with other problematic content, because this is an important part of how we discuss what’s acceptable in our society — but we’ll add a prompt to tell people that the content they’re sharing may violate our policies.
Zuckerberg also said that certain types of content from political figures could be censored altogether:
To clarify one point: there is no newsworthiness exemption to content that incites violence or suppresses voting. Even if a politician or government official says it, if we determine that content may lead to violence or deprive people of their right to vote, we will take that content down.
This comes after nearly a year of pressure from Democrats, including the Biden campaign, for Facebook to censor content from President Trump. Until now, Facebook has pushed back on this pressure, refusing requests from the Biden campaign to censor Trump’s ads.
While Zuckerberg’s post did not say it would ban Trump’s ads specifically, it does contain a new ban on “hateful” ads that leaves wide room for interpretation:
We’re expanding our ads policy to prohibit claims that people from a specific race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, caste, sexual orientation, gender identity or immigration status are a threat to the physical safety, health or survival of others.
Pointing out the empirical that mass illegal immigration leads to rising crime and disorder was a major element of Trump’s 2016 campaign, and also features strongly in the campaigns of European right-wing populists such as Matteo Salvini and Viktor Orban, who have enjoyed considerable electoral success over the past five years.
Zuckerberg also announced the creation of a “Voting Information Center to share authoritative information on how and when you can vote.” This will include information on “voter registration, voting by mail and early voting.”