An update to the Facebook Community Standards which appeared to sanction calls to violence against “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” identified by Facebook was quickly deleted amid public backlash.
On July 9th, Facebook changed its policy regarding “violence and incitement,” amending the policy to allow for “Calls for high-severity violence” against targets which have been identified as dangerous by Facebook itself:
“Do not post:
Threats that could lead to death (and other forms of high-severity violence) of any target(s), where threat is defined as any of the following:
– Statements of intent to commit high-severity violence
– Calls for high-severity violence (unless the target is an organisation or individual covered in the Dangerous Individuals and Organisations Policy)
– Including content where no target is specified but a symbol represents the target and/or includes a visual of an armament to represent violence
– Statements advocating for high-severity violence (unless the target is an organisation or individual covered in the Dangerous Individuals and Organisations Policy)
– Aspirational or conditional statements to commit high-severity violence (unless the target is an organisation or individual covered in the Dangerous Individuals and Organisations Policy”
The “dangerous individuals and organizations” policy concerns “terrorist activity,” “organized hate,” “mass or serial murder,” “human trafficking,” and “organized violence or criminal activity.” Under this updated policy, calls to violence could be incited against individuals such as Louis Farrakhan, Alex Jones, and Milo Yiannopolous, all of which were banned from Facebook for violating the policy. Under the designation of “organized violence or criminal activity,” threats and incitement against groups such as the far-left Antifa would also be allowed.
As the changes in this policy come amid the arrest of notorious pedophile and billionaire Jeffrey Epstein on charges of sex trafficking, with prosecutors claiming that Epstein was able to “create a vast network of underage victims for him to sexually exploit,” some believe that this update may have been made in reference to his ongoing legal situation.
On Wednesday, July 10th, the “Dangerous Individuals and Organisations Policy” exemption was removed from the community standards. In a statement, a spokesperson for Facebook told the Washington Examiner:
“We don’t allow credible threats of violence against anyone. We do allow some speech that calls for certain forms of violence, such as calls for the death penalty for criminals or support for military action against terrorists. We have updated our Community Standards to be more clear about this.”
Facebook also provided further clarification in an update to their Community Standards:
“The language we previously used to describe our policies against violence and incitement was imprecise. We have since replaced it to more clearly explain the policy and underlying rationale.”
“In some cases, we see aspirational or conditional threats directed at terrorists and other violent actors (e.g. Terrorists deserve to be killed), and we deem those non credible absent specific evidence to the contrary.”
What do you make of Facebook’s new Community Standards policy surrounding violence?