The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has questioned Facebook’s decision to not regulate content posted by politicians in a scathing blog post.
As you might recall Facebook said that it would not remove content posted by politicians even if it breaks Facebook’s terms of service.
This decision was seen by many as the real world application of the, “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” rule from George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
The EFF takes particular issue with Facebook’s willingness to let politicians do as they please while ordinary folks like you and I have to tow the line.
“As we’ve documented extensively over the years, Facebook regularly makes value judgements about various types of speech, resulting in content removals or account deactivations. These judgements often go well beyond the legality of speech, instead representing what the company and its executives find acceptable. Of course, it’s within the legal rights of a platform to make such determinations, but Facebook shouldn’t pretend that it isn’t an arbiter of political speech,” writes the EFF.
The foundation goes on to say that Facebook’s reasoning for not policing politicians on Facebook – newsworthiness – is not reason to leave content on the platform.
“It certainly is newsworthy when a politician engages in hateful speech, but the newsworthiness goal could be achieved by documenting or denoting the speech that has been penalized rather than simply letting politicians break the rules without comment,” the EFF continues.
Instead, the EFF argues that Facebook should put tools in place that lets folks analyse a politician’s career and highlight harmful comments that have been made in the past.
Facebook has said that it will refute content that is shared which has previously been debunked but as we eluded to when the news broke, Facebook can’t guarantee that new statements are accompanied by facts provided by independent fact checkers.
The EFF says that the move to not censor politicians is simply Facebook bowing to the political pressure being exerted against it. Many US politicians accused Facebook, Twitter and even Google of anti-conservative bias and the EFF says that Facebook has finally bowed to the pressure.
“If your rules are inappropriate to apply to politicians, why are they appropriate to apply to the rest of us? Creating exemptions from the rules for people who are already powerful is simply a practical concession, one that will continue to harm the least powerful people in society. It makes us wonder what Facebook’s rules might look like if they considered all of their users’ concerns as important as those of aggrieved politicians who want to publish disinformation and hate,” the foundation concludes.
You can read the full blog over on the EFF website, here.