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Facebook chief vows review of controversial content policies

Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg during a congressional hearing in 2018. Photo: Andrew Harnik / Associated Press

Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the company would review the process of handling controversial content after recent posts by President Trump, linked to US protests against the death of an unarmed black man killed in police custody, were met with backlash.

“We're going to review potential options for handling violating or partially-violating content aside from the binary leave-it-up or take-it-down decisions. I know many of you think we should have labeled the president's posts in some way last week,” he said in a lengthy Facebook post.

He also said the company was going to review its policies allowing “discussion and threats of state use of force.”

Facebook has been under pressure since leaving up a Trump post that read, in part: "When the looting starts, the shooting starts." 

This pressure increased when rival Twitter (TWTR) demoted and placed a stronger warning on the same message and Snapchat said it would stop promoting Trump on its video messaging service.

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It wasn’t just users who were critical, but employees as well. Facebook software engineer Timothy Aveni announced he was resigning because “for years, President Trump has enjoyed an exception to Facebook’s Community Standards; over and over he posts abhorrent, targeted messages that would get any other Facebook user suspended from the platform.”

Meanwhile in his post, Zuckerberg also said the Menlo Park firm will look at its policies around voter suppression to make sure it is taking into account “the realities of voting in the midst of a pandemic.”

Earlier this week the tech giant said it will begin labelling state-run media pages in its effort to improve transparency across the platform.

At least 18 news outlets, including Russia’s RT and China’s government-owned People’s Daily, will be subject to the new measure in a bid to “help people better understand who’s behind the news they see” on the social network, said Nathaniel Gleicher, head of cybersecurity policy.

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