After Facebook was implicated in the 2016 election wreckage, the company made strides to shore up the platform against future harms to our democracy. But now, Facebook is sabotaging its own efforts through a new policy: the explicit exemption of politicians’ speech from its community standards.
Since 2016, Facebook has maintained a “newsworthiness” exemption, meaning content that violates community standards—including hate speech and harassment—can still be posted when the public interest in viewing the content outweighs the risk of harm. With its new policy, Facebook will automatically presume speech from politicians to be newsworthy. Simply put: While major news organizations are strengthening fact-checking and accountability, Facebook is saying: If you are a politician who wishes to peddle in lies, distortion and not-so-subtle racial appeals, welcome to our platform. We will not fact-check. You are automatically newsworthy. You are automatically exempt from scrutiny.