Is all hate speech
equal? Well, evidently not. Meta Platforms, the company that runs Facebook, claims
to do all it can to stop hate speech on its platform, but now, with temporary
exceptions. In a temporary change in its hate speech policy, Meta Platforms
will allow people from certain countries to call for violence against Russians
for having invaded Ukraine, according to a Reuters report citing internal

Facebook will also
allow posts calling for the death of Russian President Vladimir Putin and
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in some countries. These will be
allowed if the posts do not contain two indicators of credibility – the method
and the location.

The countries
getting this hate speech free pass are Russia, Ukraine and Poland, Armenia, Azerbaijan,
Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovakia, internal emails to content
moderators accessed by Reuters show.

The Russian
embassy in the United States has sought Washington’s intervention in stopping what
it calls the “extremist activities” of Meta.

Also Read | Russia bans Facebook as tension with West escalates over Ukraine invasion

“As a result of
the Russian invasion of Ukraine we have temporarily made allowances for forms
of political expression
that would normally violate our rules like violent
speech such as ‘death to the Russian invaders’. We still won’t allow credible
calls for violence against Russian civilians,” a Meta spokesperson said in a

In the email sent
to content moderators highlighting the change in its hate speech policy
pertaining both to Russian soldiers and Russians in context of the invasion,
the company wrote: “We are issuing a spirit-of-the policy allowance to allow T1
violent speech that would otherwise be removed under Hate Speech policy when:
(a) targeting Russian soldiers, EXCEPT prisoners of war, or (b) targeting
Russians where it’s clear that the context is the Russian invasion of Ukraine
(e.g., the content mentions the invasion, self-defence, etc.)” the email read.

Also Read | Social media platforms oust ‘anti-Ukrainian’ misinformation campaigns

Facebook’s allowance
of hate speech against Russians in context of the Ukraine invasion comes days
after Russia cracked down on tech platforms. Facebook has been banned in Russia
and Twitter has been restricted in the country. Meanwhile, the Mark Zuckerberg-run
company has removed its ban on praise for the far-right militia Azov Battalion.

The Azov Battalion,
formed in 2014, is a far-right neo-Nazi militia accused of harbouring a white
supremacist ideology. Joe Osborne, a Facebook spokesperson, earlier said the
company was making a “narrow exception for the praise of the Azov Regiment
strictly in context of defending Ukraine, or in their role as part of the
Ukraine National Guard.”