A top Facebook executive said today that the social network will, as a rule, leave up posts from politicians that otherwise violate the company’s content standards.
“It is not our role to intervene when politicians speak,” Nick Clegg, Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communications, said at the Atlantic Festival in Washington. “That’s why I want to be really clear today — we do not submit speech by politicians to our independent fact-checkers, and we generally allow it on the platform even when it would otherwise breach our normal content rules.”
Facebook had announced in 2016 that it would leave up rule-breaking posts that met a standard of newsworthiness, but the company had not previously detailed its approach to politicians’ posts.
Social media companies have been criticized in recent years for allowing posts with bullying or violent language, from President Donald Trump in particular, to persist on their sites. Twitter recently announced it will begin labeling and demoting tweets from world leaders that violate its rules.
Clegg, a former deputy prime minister in the U.K., said there are two exceptions when it comes to leaving up politician posts. One, he said, is when speech “can lead to real world violence and harm” and “endangers people.” He also said Facebook has “more stringent rules” for language in Facebook ads “than we do for ordinary speech and rhetoric.”
“I know some people will say we should go further. That we are wrong to allow politicians to use our platform to say nasty things or make false claims,” Clegg said. “But imagine the reverse. Would it be acceptable to society at large to have a private company in effect become a self-appointed referee for everything that politicians say? I don’t believe it would be.”
Article originally published on POLITICO Magazine