Facebook Will Continue To Host Controversial Political Content

Despite criticism from both sides of the political aisle, Facebook just recommitted to hosting controversial content.

“We want people to be able to talk openly about the issues that matter to them, even if some may disagree or find them objectionable,” Monika Bickert, vice president of global policy management at Facebook, notes in a new blog post.

“In some cases, we allow content which would otherwise go against our Community Standards … if it is newsworthy and in the public interest,” Bickert said.

Among other such instances, Facebook infuriated many Americans by choosing not to censor Donald Trump’s calls for a ban on Muslim immigration in 2015.

Although Facebook later insisted that Trump’s comments did not break its Community Standards, the decision left a bad taste in the mouths of many users.

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This week, Bickert stressed that Facebook only allows such controversial content “after weighing the public-interest value against the risk of harm,” while also considering international human-rights standards.

As for what type of content Facebook won’t allow, Bickert said the company was expanding the values that serve as the basis for its Community Standards this week.

The "four pillars" for what is and isn’t allowed on Facebook now include "authenticity," "safety," "privacy" and "dignity."

Regarding authenticity, Bickert said: “We don’t want people using Facebook to misrepresent who they are or what they’re doing.”

Earlier this year, Facebook refused to take down a video manipulated to make House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appear impaired.

Further confusing matters, a spokesperson for the company toldPolitico: “We don’t have a policy that stipulates that the information [users] post on Facebook must be true.”

Due to the deceptive nature of the video, however, Facebook agreed to fiddle with its algorithm so it would appear in the News Feeds of fewer users.

The company also said it planned to accompany the video with notices from third-party fact-checkers, which would make it clear to users the video did not reflect reality.

However, this week, Facebook demonstrated that it is fully prepared to spike the work of its own fact checkers in the face of right-wing pressure. The platform removed information provided by its fact checkers that debunked claims in two anti-abortion propaganda videos, after receiving a complaint from four Republican senators.

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