Meta Platforms, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, has temporarily eased its policy on violent speech following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, saying it will allow statements such as “death to Russian invaders” but not credible threats against civilians.
Tech giant 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.
The policy decision was met immediately with controversy, with Russia’s embassy in the United States demanding on Friday that Washington D.C. stop the “extremist activities” of the Facebook owner.
The tech giant, however, defended its policy decision.
Facebook and other US tech giants have moved to penalise Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. Apple and Microsoft have announced they are halting the sale of their products in Russia, while other companies have made public their “pauses” of certain business activities or ties.
Last week, US internet service provider Cogent Communications said it had “terminated its contracts with customers billing out of Russia”.
Russia said it was banning Facebook in the country in response to what it said were restrictions of access to Russian media on the platform. Moscow has cracked down on tech companies, including Twitter (TWTR.N), which said it is restricted in the country, during its invasion of Ukraine, which it calls a “special operation.”
Russia has also taken steps to block access to the Facebook network, joining the very small club of countries barring the largest social network in the world, along with China and North Korea.