Facebook will now start flagging content that violates its policies if “the public interest value outweighs the risk of harm.”
“Often, seeing speech from politicians is in the public interest, and in the same way that news outlets will report what a politician says, we think people should generally be able to see it for themselves on our platforms,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post Friday. “We will soon start labeling some of the content we leave up because it is deemed newsworthy, so people can know when this is the case.”
Facebook’s new policy is almost a mirror image of Twitter’s, who said when announcing its policy to flag some content almost a year ago that “there are certain cases where it may be in the public’s interest to have access to certain Tweets, even if they would otherwise be in violation of our rules.”
Facebook has been criticized for leaving up content by President Trump that some have said incites violence or spreads misinformation, but the company said Friday that none of the content the president has posted on its platform so far would be flagged under this new policy.
“Nothing would be labeled newsworthy because the newsworthy label only applies to content that violates our policies, and none of his past posts violate our policy,” a spokesperson for Facebook told FOX Business.
Zuckerberg explained in May that there is a carveout for the discussion of state use of force, such as when Trump threatened in May to send the National Guard after looters.
“Our policy around incitement of violence allows discussion around state use of force, although I think today’s situation raises important questions about what potential limits of that discussion should be,” Zuckerberg wrote in May.
Facebook is also banning a “wider category of hateful content in ads,” banning “any content that misleads people on when or how they can vote,” and “creating a Voting Information Center to share authoritative information on how and when you can vote.”
The change in policy comes amid an advertiser boycott and internal backlash over Facebook’s stance. Civil rights organizations like the NAACP and the Anti-Defamation League have been pressuring companies to drop advertising from Facebook under the slogan of “#StopHateForProfit.”
Zuckerberg said Friday the company has been working with outside groups on its evolving policy.
“We’re continuing to review our policies, and we’ll keep working with outside experts and civil rights organizations to adjust our approach as new risks emerge,” he wrote.
“Our brand safety standards have not changed. We have strict content policies in place and have zero tolerance when they are breached, we take action,” Verizon Chief Media Officer John Nitti said in a statement to FOX Business. “We’re pausing our advertising until Facebook can create an acceptable solution that makes us comfortable and is consistent with what we’ve done with YouTube and other partners.”
It’s a fairly sudden about-face for Zuckerberg, who defended Facebook’s policy and criticized Twitter just last month.
“We have a different policy than, I think, Twitter on this. I just believe strongly that Facebook shouldn’t be the arbiter of truth of everything that people say online,” Zuckerberg told Fox News in May. “I think in general, private companies probably shouldn’t be, especially these platform companies, shouldn’t be in the position of doing that.”
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey hit back at Zuckerberg that same day, tweeting that the company’s “intention is to connect the dots of conflicting statements and show the information in dispute so people can judge for themselves.”
Twitter has flagged multiple tweets by the president, most recently when Trump tweeted earlier this week that protesters who try to establish an “autonomous zone” in Washington, D.C., will be met with “serious force.”
The president has accused Twitter and other social media companies of trying to silence conservatives. He signed an executive order last month designed to reduce the legal protections that shield these platforms from liability for what users post.