It seems Facebook has plans for politicians.
Facebook plans to end its controversial policy that mostly shields politicians from the content moderation rules that apply to other users, a sharp reversal that could have global ramifications for how elected officials use the social network.
The change, which Facebook is set to announce as soon as Friday, comes after the Oversight Board — an independent group funded by Facebook to review its thorniest content rulings — affirmed its decision to suspend former President Donald Trump but critiqued the special treatment it gives politicians, stating that the “same rules should apply to all users.” The board gave Facebook till June 5th to respond to its policy recommendations.
Facebook also plans to shed light on the secretive system of strikes it gives accounts for breaking its content rules, according to two people familiar with the changes. That will include letting users know when they’ve received a strike for violating its rules that could lead to suspension. BuzzFeed News and other outlets have previously reported on instances when Facebook employees intervened to keep political pages from being subject to harsh penalties under the strikes policy.
Facebook is also set to begin disclosing when it uses a special newsworthiness exemption to keep up content from politicians and others that would otherwise violate its rules.
A spokesperson for Facebook had no comment for this story.
The changes are notable for Facebook since it historically has taken a hands-off approach to what elected officials say on its service. Company executives, including CEO Mark Zuckerberg, have said that they shouldn’t be in the business of policing speech by politicians. They’ve argued that such speech is already the most scrutinized in the world, and that private companies shouldn’t censor what politicians say to their citizens.
For the past few years, Facebook has maintained a list of political accounts that aren’t subject to the same fact-checking or content moderation processes that apply to other users. In 2019, a group of employees asked for the list to be dissolved, citing internal research that showed people were especially likely to believe falsehoods if they were shared by an elected official, according to The Information.