Meta says people can't call for Putin to be assassinated after Russian backlash

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What you need to know

  • Meta says people can no longer call for the death of Russians as the country continues its invasion of Ukraine.
  • Discussion of the assassination of President Putin has also been banned.
  • While Putin was not namechecked, the context is clear.

Following a change to Meta policy last week that allowed people more leeway when discussing the potential death of "Russian invaders," the company has now backtracked — prohibiting people from talking about things including the potential assassination of Russia's president.

Russia moved to ban Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram last week when the news broke that a change was being made to an existing Meta rule regarding hate speech — a change specific to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"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 statement to Reuters last week.

Now, Reuters reports Meta says that it's had a change of heart.

"We are now narrowing the focus to make it explicitly clear in the guidance that it is never to be interpreted as condoning violence against Russians in general," Meta global affairs President Nick Clegg wrote in a post on the company's internal platform on Sunday that was seen by Reuters.

Clegg went on to call out any potential assassination discussion.

"We also do not permit calls to assassinate a head of state...So, in order to remove any ambiguity about our stance, we are further narrowing our guidance to make explicit that we are not allowing calls for the death of a head of state on our platforms," Clegg said.

This comes after Russia did ultimately ban Instagram yesterday, something Meta said would affect around 80 million of its users. It's notable that this change in stance comes so soon after that ban and will surely be seen as a win in Moskow.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.