Facebook to Slap Labels on Newsworthy, But Rule-Breaking Posts From Politicians

Sometimes, Facebook will leave up a rule-breaking post from an elected official because it has been declared ‘newsworthy and in the general public interest.’ Now the business will probably label such posts to create this distinction clear.

Next time President Trump posts something inflammatory on social media, Facebook may end up labeling it.

On Friday, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the social networking begins labeling posts from politicians when this content breaks its rules. Normally, Facebook immediately takes down such content. However in some cases, Facebook will leave up a rule-breaking post because it’s been declared “newsworthy and in the general public interest.”

“Often, seeing speech from politicians is in the general public interest, and just as that news outlets will report just what a politician says, we think people should generally manage to view it for themselves on our platforms,” Zuckerberg wrote in the announcement.

However, the exemption creates a problem: users who view the rule-breaking post may wonder why Facebook left it up. The discrepancy may then spark criticism over the way the social networking polices its content. So in response, Facebook begins labeling the rule-breaking posts, rendering it clear why it permitted this content.

Users it’s still in a position to share the rule-breaking post, Zuckerberg said. “But we’ll put in a prompt to tell individuals who this content they’re sharing may violate our policies,” he added.

Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Zuckerberg announced the change after Facebook took no action on a controversial post from President Trump regarding the George Floyd protests in Minneapolis last month. “Any difficulty and we’ll seize control but, when the looting starts, the shooting starts,” Trump wrote.

The implied risk of violence caused many critics, including Facebook’s own employees, to demand the post be studied down. However, Zuckerberg refused. According to him, the president’s post was more about deploying the National Guard to handle the civil unrest. “I disagree strongly with the way the President spoke concerning this,” he said at that time, “but I really believe people will be able to see this for themselves.”

It’s unclear if Trump’s post from last month would are categorized as the brand new labeling policy. However, at that time, Zuckerberg said the post didn’t violate its policy against inciting violence. If it had, Facebook would’ve deleted the post.

According to Zuckerberg, there’s only a "couple of times" every year where Facebook leaves up a rule-breaking post. Therefore the company will probably utilize the new labeling system sparingly.

“To clarify one point: there is absolutely no newsworthiness exemption to content that incites violence or suppresses voting,” he added. “Even if a politician or government official says it, if we determine that content can lead to violence or deprive folks of their to vote, we will need that content down.”

The change arrives as the business is facing an advertising boycott. An increasing number of companies, including Verizon and Unilever, have stopped buying ads on the social networking to pressure Facebook to have a harder stance on fighting h

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