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Facebook to draw a line on anti-lockdown content after protests break out in the US

With anti-lockdown protests breaking out in the US, Facebook has found itself in a fix. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has said that it is easier to police medical information than political posts.

twitter-logo Yasmin Ahmed   New Delhi     Last Updated: April 21, 2020  | 13:54 IST

Highlights

  • Facebook said it will let people promote protests on Facebook as long as they donít defy the governmentís guidance on social distancing.
  • CEO Zuckerberg said that Facebook would classify harmful misinformation and would have it taken down.
  • Earlier this month, Facebook said that it would take aggressive steps to bring down content that causes physical harm.

Facebook said it would crack down on posts that encourage people to break rules about social distancing in the US. This move comes after the anti-government protests that took place over the weekend in the US. People coming out on the streets mainly said that they do not want to comply with the government's order of social distancing in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

In an interview with ABCs Good Morning America, Zuckerberg said if somebody were to say that social distancing was ineffective, Facebook would classify that as harmful misinformation and would have it taken down.

"At the same time it's important that people can debate policies, can give their opinions on different things, so there's a line on this," Zuckerberg said.

"More than normal political discourse I think a lot of stuff that people are saying that is false around a health emergency like this can be classified as harmful misinformation that has a risk of leading to imminent danger, and we'll take that content down," he continued

According to a report by Bloomberg, Facebook in a statement said that events that defy the government's guidance on social distancing are not allowed on Facebook. At the same time, the social media platform said it will allow events to be organised and promoted on Facebook "unless the government prohibits the event."

This means that protestors can organise their events on Facebook as long as protestors didn't say they plan to defy government-ordered social distancing rules, the report stated.

Facebook has found itself in a fix in the backdrop of these protests as there is less clarity on what is true. Zuckerberg said that it is easier for Facebook to police health information than political information.

As to where the anti-lockdown protests are concerned, they are raising both political and medical questions.

US President Donald Trump has disregarded social distancing as a solution to contain the pandemic. In a series of tweets on Friday, he supported the protest movements taking place across the US. Trump's tweet read "LIBERATE MINNESOTA" He called similar actions in Michigan and Virginia. These states are currently headed by democratic governors.

Earlier this month, Facebook said that it would take aggressive steps to bring down content that causes physical harm.

According to a report by Independent, Facebook posts that cause physical harm include those making false claims about cures, treatments or the location and severity of the outbreak.

As per Worldometers, the US has seen over 40,000 deaths with more than 7 lakh confirmed cases.

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