Facebook Amends Hate Speech Rules to Allow For Calls For Violence Against Russian Forces

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Facebook and Instagram's parent company Meta has temporarily amended its hate speech rules in some countries to allow users to call for the death of Russian forces.

Users in some Eastern European nations including Russia, Ukraine and Poland will be allowed to promote violence if it is targeted at Russian President Vladimir Putin, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, or members of those country's military forces.

The sites will not allow the promotion of violence directed at civilians in either country.

"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'," Meta said in a statement. "We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians."

"We are issuing a spirit-of-the-policy allowance to allow T1 violent speech that would otherwise be removed under the hate speech policy when: (a) targeting Russian soldiers, except prisoners of war, or (b) targeting Russians where it’s clear that the context is the Russian invasion of Ukraine (eg content mentions the invasion, self-defense, etc)," the statement continued. "We are doing this because we have observed that in this specific context, ‘Russian soldiers’ is being used as a proxy for the Russian military. The hate speech policy continues to prohibit attacks on Russians."

The change in policy will apply only to users based in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine.

Russia's embassy in Washington has demanded that the US "stop the extremist activities of Meta and take measures to bring the perpetrators to justice."

"Meta’s aggressive and criminal policy leading to incitement of hatred and hostility towards Russians is outrageous," the embassy said. "The company’s actions are yet another evidence of the information war without rules declared on our country."

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