Facebook has confirmed that it will start to label posts from public figures with warnings when they’ve violated one of its terms of service.
On Facebook, company CEO Mark Zuckerberg outlined some of the steps the social network is taking ahead of the U.S. presidential election in November.
On the subject of the warning labels, Zuckerberg said the goal is to keep content that is “newsworthy” available to the public while providing a prompt to tell people that said content might go against the company’s rules.
“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,” wrote Zuckerberg. “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.”
In theory, this would help crackdown on posts from politicians, public speakers and other public figures that are spreading fake news. Further, Zuckerberg says posts that incite violence or suppress voting will be removed altogether.
This new labelling initiative is a major reversal for Facebook, as Zuckerberg previously argued in May that the company should refrain from regulating online speech, despite the public calling for it do so.
At the time, Twitter started adding fact-checking labels to thousands of tweets that were deemed to be misleading or downright false. Many of these had to do with misinformation surrounding COVID-19, but some also pertained to U.S. President Donald’s Trump’s tweets about the country’s mail-in voting process.
However, Zuckerberg told Fox News that Facebook has “a different policy” than Twitter on the matter.
“I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” he added. “Private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
It’s unclear what, exactly, ultimately led Facebook to change its stance on the issue.
In his Facebook post, Zuckerberg also said the company is cracking down harder on hate speech. Specifically, Zuckerberg writes that Facebook’s ad policy has been expanded “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.”
Policies will also be extended to “better protect immigrants, migrants, refugees and asylum seekers from ads suggesting these groups are inferior or expressing contempt, dismissal or disgust directed at them,” says Zuckerberg.