Facebook exempts politicians′ posts from fact-checking | News | DW | 25.09.2019
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Facebook exempts politicians' posts from fact-checking

The social network has said it won't be an arbiter of appropriate political speech following public scrutiny over freedom of expression versus dubious content. The stance comes ahead of the 2020 presidential elections.

Facebook announced it would not fact-check or remove politicians' posts that violate its community standards.

Nick Clegg, Facebook's vice president of global affairs and communications, made the statement in a speech in Washington on Tuesday, as the social media network prepares for the presidential election in November 2020.

"We don't believe ... that it's an appropriate role for us to referee political debates and prevent a politician's speech from reaching its audience and being subject to public debate and scrutiny," Clegg said.

While the social media giant claims it works to discredit false information intended to manipulate public opinion, it would not act as a mediator for appropriate political discourse.

"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?" Clegg asked. "I don’t believe it would be."

Read more: Facebook deletes hundreds of Russian troll pages

Social media under pressure

Clegg's comments come after Twitter's June announcement that it would identify and deemphasize tweets that breached its rules but were posted by politicians and government officials.

Users could flag offending tweets and the network would cover the tweet and require users to first click on a link in order to view it.

Like other social media platforms, Facebook faces increased monitoring of transparency levels and cyber-influence ahead of the US elections.

US authorities have accused Facebook and other social networks of aiding a wide-ranging misinformation campaign largely swayed by Russian operatives aimed at helping elect President Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign.

Moscow has continuously denied the claims.

In response, Facebook has set up various partnerships with media outlets to verify dubious posts and articles, allowing journalist contributions at the bottom of inappropriate content.

In 2018, following the allegations of Russian interference, Facebook hired Clegg, a former British deputy prime minister, to clean up its scandal-plagued image.

Read more: Mark Zuckerberg rejects call from US lawmaker to break up Facebook

Nick Clegg

Facebook hired former British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg to clean-up its scandal-plagued image

Facebook's new rules

In accordance with its new stance, Facebook will remove posts if a politician's content poses a security risk or has the potential to incite violence.

The network said that all political advertisements must comply with Facebook rules. It also said it will not label politicians' posts as viral and aims to make decisions based on the public interest at large.

However, politicians who post insensitive or graphic content in nature may be kept online.

"…when a politician shares previously debunked content including links, videos and photos, we plan to demote that content, display related information from fact-checkers, and reject its inclusion in advertisements," he said.

Social media platforms and tech giants have come under public pressure in recent years to balance freedom of expression with privacy and the regulation of inappropriate content.

mvb/ng (AFP, Reuters)

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