The ‘Community Standards/Guidelines’ of social media giants have always been a point of contest.
Originally created in line with the Good Samaritan Clause of Section 230 Immunity (the US legislation that allows social media platforms to facilitate the posting of third-party content without liability), Community Standards were meant to allow platforms to remove abusive, illegal, violent, or obscene content.
Across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and others, they are now widely reported to be vague, political, and unequally enforced. Users of the correct political affiliation can seemingly say almost anything they want, while others are removed immediately. This came to a head during the last US election, when Trump supporters were purged for social media platforms and the elected President was banned.
In addition to ‘policing harmful comments’, the Community Standards feature on these platforms have evolved into a ‘fact-checking / approved-truth’ mechanism, where expressing thoughts or reporting information that disagrees with the stated politics of the platform sees users banned – this is particularly true of Climate Change and Covid where unapproved thoughts are tagged as ‘dangerous’.
Any pretence of Community Standard equality has been shed this week, when Facebook and Instagram announced that they would allow posts related to the Ukraine war which urged, encouraged, or even documented violence against the Putin’s invading Russian army. It will also be acceptable to call for the murder of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko – who is facilitating violent attacks on Ukraine as a long-standing ally of Russia.
Ordinarily, calling for acts of violence constitutes a violation of their ‘hate speech’ policies.
For comparison, throughout the Islamic terror attacks in the West, platforms still removed users who expressed anger or ill towards terrorists despite the horror and violence experienced by Westerners.
“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders!’. We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” confirmed a spokesperson for Meta (Facebook).
The Russian Embassy in America posted a furious Tweet in response:
‘We demand that American authorities stop the extremist activities of Meta (Facebook), take measures to bring the perpetrators to justice. Users of Facebook and Instagram did not give the owners of these platforms the right to determine the criteria of truth and pit nations against each other.
The Russian Embassy obviously hasn’t been paying attention to US social media giants for the last 15 years. Their policies are intensely political, more so now than ever before.