Facebook recently stated that the site will not remove politicians’ posts that break the site’s rules for fear of “censoring or stifling political discourse.” According to one executive, “Freedom of expression is an absolute founding principle for Facebook.”
Business Insider reports that Facebook has announced that it won’t be removing tweets from politicians that violate the rules of the site for fear of stifling political discourse. Facebook’s most senior spokesman, Nick Clegg, said at The Atlantic Festival in Washington D.C. on Tuesday that Facebook is taking steps to prepare for upcoming political elections and discussed how the site is changing its attitude towards political speech on its platform.
Clegg stated in his speech that Facebook will be cracking down on fake accounts will be making efforts to reduce the spread of fake news but that politicians’ speeches and political debates will not be fact-checked and will be allowed on the site even if they break Facebook’s rules. “Freedom of expression is an absolute founding principle for Facebook,” Clegg said.
Clegg continued to state: “Since day one, giving people a voice to express themselves has been at the heart of everything we do. We are champions of free speech and defend it in the face of attempts to restrict it. Censoring or stifling political discourse would be at odds with what we are about.”
Many appeared to disagree with Facebook’s decision, Alex Newhouse, an extremism researcher at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies stated in a tweet: “To give politicians essentially free reign to lie, gaslight, and spread hate on the largest social platform on the planet isn’t just misguided, it’s actively dangerous, violent, and anti-society.”
But others believe that Facebook should not be making decisions about what political speech is or is not acceptable. Associate professor of journalism and media at the University of North Carolina, Daniel Kreiss, stated: “[This] is primarily a political, not a media, problem in my view, and Facebook simply does not have the legitimacy to solve that.”
Clegg did state that the site would become involved in situations “where speech endangers people,” and that political ads would continue to be regulated.