Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Facebook’s Supervisory Board will weigh in on the rules for politicians

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As Facebook’s “Supreme Court” prepares to rule on the appropriateness of Donald Trump’s suspension , the council will also address some of the thorniest political questions about how Facebook handles elected officials’ accounts.

Speaking at a panel at SXSW, Rachel Wolbers, public policy officer for the Supervisory Board, said that in addition to the “binary” decision whether or not to reinstate Trump’s account, the board will also review Facebook’s policies regarding elected officials more broadly. . The comments, which precede the official decision expected in the coming weeks, offer additional insight into how the board views his most high-profile case to date.

“When Facebook referred this case to us, there are really two issues,” Wolbers said. “First, we’re looking at this binary question… whether the account should go down, or whether we should reestablish former President Donald Trump’s public page. And then we’ll also look at the policy of world leaders … It’s actually elected officials policy, it applies the same way, from the President of the United States to the head of your local school board.

Facebook provides to the accounts of elected officials. For example, statements by politicians are exempt from corporate fact-checking policies. And in the past, Facebook has cited “notoriety” as the reason for allowing Trump and other politicians to make statements that would otherwise break its rules.

While it’s not clear what aspects of these policies can be addressed by the Supervisory Board, Wolbers suggested that the group consider looking into whether Trump should be allowed to return to Facebook if he does. present again.

“What’s really interesting… you start to become elected once you fill out the papers to run for office,” Wolbers said of Facebook’s rules. “So there is an interesting thought right now with the Donald Trump account. No, he is no longer an elected official, but if he decided to run again, then he would be raised in that elected category. So we’ll look at some of these nuanced policies. “

This approach is in line with previous decisions taken by the Supervisory Board. In addition to ruling on individual content moderation issues, it also has the ability to recommend broader policy changes to Facebook. And while Facebook is not obligated to implement these changes, it is obligated to respond to suggestions and explain its position.

For example, after the first round of decisions and policy recommendations from the Supervisory Board, Facebook ended up agreeing to . Notably, he changed Instagram’s rules to allow “health-related nudity,” following a case involving a post about breast cancer awareness. The company has also agreed to clarify its policies on health disinformation, which has resulted in rules.

Of course, the issues surrounding the Trump decision are even more contentious than the rules around nudity or health misinformation. The council’s decision will be controversial regardless of its decision and could have far-reaching implications for all politicians who use the social network. But it’s also a big part of why Facebook created the Supervisory Board in the first place – to delegate the toughest decisions to an “independent” organization.

“There’s also a strong value within Facebook – I think I think a lot of Americans probably agree with that – that we want to know what our elected officials are saying,” Wolbers said. “There is also a very good point to make that an elected official has other means of communicating without using social media. They have a blog, they have press releases; the press covers them. We are going to wade through these very complex issues. “

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