Of words and war: Freedom of speech on social media during ‘wartime’

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In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Meta announced a stark change in its policy. For an unspecified period, it would allow Facebook posts that called for violence against Russian invaders, the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and/or showed support for the Ukrainian ultranationalist Azov Battalion.

Given that the new policy essentially allowed for explicit incitement to violence, the lack of outcry was shocking.

It is a striking time: speech is being regulated and deregulated in favour of violence and partisanship. Remember that after Facebook was accused of allowing content that facilitated violence against the Rohingya in Myanmar and of allowing the spread of disinformation about the 2016 U.S. election, it made a point of setting up fact-checking groups.

Meta argues that the policy is meant to . . . 


To continue reading this Commentary, please visit the original publishing website TORONTO STAR (12 April 2022).

About the Author

Head of Democracy Assessment
Seema Shah

Dr Seema Shah is the Head of International IDEA's Democracy Assessment (DA) Unit , which produces a biennial 'Global State of Democracy' report, an annually updated Global State of Democracy Indices and a EU-co-funded Covid-19 Global Monitor on Democracy and Human Rights.