It is actually forbidden on social networks to harm other people in the context of so-called “hate speech”. Meta, the parent company of Facebook, has now softened these regulations for its social network. As a result, people in some countries are now allowed to call for Vladimir Putin to be assassinated unchallenged.
Hate speech against Putin and Lukashenko possible
To crack down on vilification and personal attacks, Facebook enforced strict hate speech rules several months ago. But in light of the current Ukraine war, the Meta subsidiary has introduced some gray areas. The reason for all this is that people around the world wanted to vent their anger at Russia’s autocrat Vladimir Putin and his vassal in Belarus Aleksander Lukashenko. Facebook now even accepts public calls for violence and murder in this context. This comes on the heels of a report by the Reuters news agency.
Not possible everywhere
But before you sit down at your computer and quickly make a hateful post about one of the two presidents, we have to put the brakes on you. That’s because it’s not possible to make such posts in all countries. Instead, Facebook has only relaxed its rules in countries that are at least indirectly affected. According to Reuters, these include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Hungary and, of course, Ukraine itself.
However, things are not really without rules. After all, despite relaxed regulations, there are still taboos that must not be broken. For one thing, the appeals may not be directed against prisoners of war or Russian civilians. If a call for the assassination of politicians is launched, it must not be too detailed. In particular, murder methods must not be discussed. Otherwise, the post is threatened with deletion.
No general vilification of Russians allowed
Behind the war of aggression on Ukraine is undoubtedly the Russian President Vladimir Putin himself. The population of his country should not be blamed for this. Accordingly, Facebook also restricts expressions of hatred against Russians as such. These are only allowed if they are really directly related to the war in Ukraine. In contrast to civilians, Russian soldiers are again allowed to express their hatred. Meta explains this by saying that soldiers are considered the right hand of the military apparatus, and therefore of Vladimir Putin.
Trivializing nationalist Ukrainians?
However, the whole thing does have a stale aftertaste. After all, according to the email obtained by Reuters, Facebook is also currently allowing an exception for the highly controversial group Azov. Thus, Facebook users can currently make positive comments about the openly far-right Ukrainian group and also cheer them on. However, this is only allowed if it is also about the war and the defense of Russia’s neighboring country. Given the current state of emergency, I guess one has to accept this with hope for return of normalcy soon.
Russian embassy in the US is incensed
Naturally, Russia finds the social network’s actions anything but good. The embassy in the US is therefore demanding that the government take immediate action against Meta. It is probably highly unlikely that the US government will comply with this request. Even if the choice of words may at times seem somewhat glorifying of violence, one simply has to accept this in times of war. After all, people can use this to encourage each other. Since Facebook is currently inaccessible in Russia anyway, the country doesn’t have to worry about its own population noticing anything about the postings.