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Urging Violence

It’s now okay for Facebook users in some countries to call for violence against Russian soldiers and even Russian president Vladimir Putin on the platform, according to internal company emails obtained by Reuters — though calls for violence against Russian civilians are still verboten.

It’s a bizarre decision that underlines just how much sway Facebook and Meta have over what can or cannot be said online.

The news comes after Russia announced it will completely block all access to Facebook in the country, in retaliation over the company’s refusal to reverse its decision to block Russian propaganda outlets on the platform.

“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,'” a Meta spokesperson told Reuters in a statement.

Credible Threats

There are some notable caveats to the eyebrow-raising policy change.

“We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” the spokesperson added.

And posts with actual plans to dispose of Putin, including details like a time or place, will also be removed as that would violate Facebook’s rules over inciting violence.

You are also only allowed to wish death upon Russian soldiers if you happen to be in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine of course, according to the leaked email.

Is it retaliation over Russia’s decision to block Facebook? It’s tough to say, but it is an uncomfortable revelation, regardless of the bloodshed in Ukraine.

The stakes are higher than ever — but an angry online mob isn’t likely to help in any meaningful way, either.

READ MORE: Facebook allows war posts urging violence against Russian invaders [Reuters]

More on Facebook: Russia Is Officially Blocking All Access to Facebook


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