Facebook and Instagram have modified their policies in some countries to temporarily allow calling for the death of Russian soldiers and leadership.
Calls for violence, hate speech, and incitement are typically violations of the terms of service and will result in bans or suspensions — but will now be allowed in the context of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
The policy was first reported by Reuters, who obtained internal emails detailing the policy changes.
“As a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules like violent speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders.’ We still won’t allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement.
The change will also allow people in Russia, Ukraine, and Poland to call for the deaths of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.
According to the emails, the calls for violence against Russian soldiers or leaders will be allowed in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine. The United States was not on the list of nations affected by the new policy.
The email, which was sent to the company’s moderation team, did specify that calls for violence against prisoners of war will remain against the rules.
“We are issuing a spirit-of-the-policy allowance to allow T1 violent speech that would otherwise be removed under the Hate Speech policy when: (a) targeting Russian soldiers, EXCEPT prisoners of war, or (b) targeting Russians where it’s clear that the context is the Russian invasion of Ukraine (e.g., content mentions the invasion, self-defense, etc.),” the email said.
“We are doing this because we have observed that in this specific context, ‘Russian soldiers’ is being used as a proxy for the Russian military. The Hate Speech policy continues to prohibit attacks on Russians,” the email continued.
Additionally, Facebook and Instagram’s parent company Meta will be allowing praise for Ukraine’s Azov battalion neo-Nazi group, which is also normally a violation of their rules.
Reuters reports, “Meta spokesman Joe Osborne previously said the company was ‘for the time being, making a narrow exception for praise of the Azov Regiment strictly in the context of defending Ukraine, or in their role as part of the Ukraine National Guard.'”
Russia banned Facebook in the country last week after the platform restricted Russian media across the European Union. Moscow slammed the restrictions as “discrimination.”