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META Reverses Policy, Restricts Death Threats To Heads of State

The social media giant continues to vacillate between standards of free speech for those impacted by the war in Ukraine


After making a policy change last week to allow for calls of violence and death against Russian soldiers and leaders, META has reversed its policy to restrict users from posting death threats intended for top government leadership. 

Last week’s policy shift was first reported by Reuters, after obtaining internal emails detailing the updates.

“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.

Following the move by META, Russian prosecutors requested a court to designate the tech company as an “extremist organization.” 

“A criminal case has been initiated … in connection with illegal calls for murder and violence against citizens of the Russian Federation by employees of the American company Meta, which owns the social networks Facebook and Instagram,” said Russia’s Investigative Committee.

The Russian communications regulator, Roskomnadzor, who reports directly to President Putin, said it would restrict access to Meta’s Instagram starting March 14. This decision affects 80 million users in Russia.

However, on Sunday, META said that it is restricting its content moderation policy for Ukraine to prohibit calls for the death of a head of state.

Reuters reported the update on Monday after reviewing an internal company post.

“We are now narrowing the focus to make it explicitly clear in the guidance that it is never to be interpreted as condoning violence against Russians in general,” Meta global affairs President Nick Clegg wrote on the company’s internal platform.

“We also do not permit calls to assassinate a head of state. … So, in order to remove any ambiguity about our stance, we are further narrowing our guidance to make explicit that we are not allowing calls for the death of a head of state on our platforms,” Clegg said.

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