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Facebook expected to end special treatment for politicians

The Oversight Board has argued that the ‘same rules should apply to all users’

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Photo (c) Yuichiro Chino - Getty Images
Facebook is putting an end to a policy that keeps politicians from having to abide by the same content moderation rules that other users must follow when posting on the site. 

The tech giant plans to announce on Friday that it will no longer keep posts by politicians up on its platform by default if their speech violates its rules, the New York Times reported, citing sources with knowledge of the plans. 

Once the change has gone into effect, politicians’ posts will no longer automatically be presumed newsworthy. The content in the posts will be subject to content guidelines that prohibit harassment, discrimination, or harmful speech. 

Content that is determined by Facebook to be newsworthy will be protected from being taken down. However, starting Friday, Facebook will add a label that tells users that it has applied the newsworthiness clause to a post. 

Standard rules for all

Reports suggest that the change is largely the result of former President Donald Trump’s controversial social media posts. Facebook sent its decision to suspend Trump indefinitely to the Oversight Board -- a Facebook-funded group that reviews content decisions. 

The Oversight Board said blocking Trump wasn’t entirely appropriate due to the fact that other politicians would still be let off the hook. The group said the “same rules should apply to all users” and gave Facebook until June 5 to respond to its proposed policy changes. 

Facebook is set to discuss its plans for moderating politicians on Friday. The social media giant is also expected to elaborate on its strategy for keeping rule-breaking content off its site. 

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