Meta Allows Ukraine War Posts Urging Violence Against Invading Russians

Reuters reported that Meta Platforms (the parent company of Facebook) will allow Facebook and Instagram users in some countries to call for violence against Russians and Russian soldiers in the context of the Ukraine invasion. Reuters clarifies that this is a temporary change to Meta’s hate speech policy.

According to Reuters, the social media company is also temporarily allowing some posts that call for death to Russian President Vladimir Putin or Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, according to internal emails to its content moderators.

A Meta spokesperson gave the following statement to Reuters:

“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.”

It sound like Meta has provided a template sentence for people to use without facing any consequences.

Reuters reported that the calls for leaders’ deaths will be allowed unless they contain other targets or have two indicators of credibility, such as the location or method. This temporary policy change on calls for violence to Russian soldiers apply to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, and Ukraine.

On February 28, President of Global Affairs at Meta, tweeted: “We have received from a number of Governments and the EU to take further steps in retaliation to Russian state controlled media. Given the exceptional nature of the current situation we will be restricting access to RT and Sputnik across the EU at this time.”

On March 3, Meta announced that they were committing $15 million to support humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and neighboring countries. It includes $5 million in direct donations to UN agencies and more than a dozen nonprofits, including International Medical Corps who will be using these funds to deploy mobile medical units to Ukraine and Internews to support at-risk journalists and human rights defenders. They are also donating to UNICEF to support children and families in Ukraine.

It would have been better if Meta focused on those two things, and stopped there.

What will Meta do when, sometime in the future, another war starts? Will their hate speech policy be temporarily ignored again? Meta cannot offer a healthy community while it is looking the other way when people post death threats.