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  • Writer's picturePeter DiSilvio

Facebook Allows Putin Death Threats

In a surprising turn of events it has been reported that Facebook is allowing death threats and other calls for violence against Vladimir Putin and Russian soldiers in Ukraine in contrast to the companies long held policy against such speech.

Facebook has long had a ban on threats that could lead to death or other forms of high-severity violence. In the past the company has defined such threats as statement of intent to commit high-severity violence, calls for violence even when there is no specific target of the violence, statements advocating for violence, or statements admitting to past high-severity violence [1].

However, Reuters recently reported that Facebook is allowing war posts urging violence against Russian invader and their leader [2].

Nick Clegg, President of Global Affairs for Meta which is the parent company of Facebook, took to Twitter to address the reporting. In his statement, Clegg wrote that Meta's "policies are focused on protecting people's rights to speech as an expression of self-defense in reaction to a military invasion of their country," and continued that if Meta were to enforce their "standard content policies without any adjustments [they] would now be removing content from ordinary Ukrainians expressing their resistance and fury at the invading military forces, which would rightly be viewed as unacceptable" [3].

This is only the most recent increase in hostilities between the tech giant and the Russian government. The digital conflict began almost at the same time as actual fighting broke out in Ukraine with Facebook issuing a press release where they claimed employees detected and removed two disinformation campaigns run by groups in Russia and Ukraine [4]. Mr. Putin responded by threatening to ban Facebook from Russia entirely [5] and even going so far as to label Meta as an extremist organization [6].

It is unclear how this digital conflict will be resolved, especially as the fighting in Ukraine continues to escalate, but it almost assuredly will. Neither Facebook nor Mr. Putin seem inclined to back down and, given the level of animosity and the inability of either to directly impact the other, it seems like neither party is inclined to ratchet down tension.


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