Facebook said Monday it plans to restrict posts containing misinformation and hate speech related to the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, to prevent them from being in ignore real damage.
As the final arguments in the process began and Minneapolis was bracing itself for a verdict, Facebook said it would identify and remove posts on the social network that urged people to bring guns into the city. It also said it would protect members of Mr. Floyd’s family from harassment and remove content that praised, celebrated, or mocked his death.
“We know that this process was painful for many people,” wrote Monika Bickert, Vice President for Content Policy at Facebook, in a blog post. “We want to strike the right balance between being able to talk about the process and the meaning of the judgment, while doing our part to protect everyone’s safety.”
Long positioning itself as a free speech website, Facebook has become increasingly proactive in monitoring content that could lead to violence in the real world. The Silicon Valley company has been under fire for years for handling sensitive news incidents. That includes last year’s presidential election when online misinformation about electoral fraud roused supporters of former President Donald J. Trump. Believing the election stolen from Mr. Trump, some supporters stormed the Capitol on January 6th.
Before the election, Facebook took steps to combat misinformation, foreign interference, and voter suppression. The company displayed warnings on more than 150 million posts containing misinformation about elections, removed more than 120,000 posts for violating its voter interference policies, and shut down 30 networks that posted false news about the election.
However, critics said Facebook and other social media platforms hadn’t done enough. After the storm on the Capitol, the social network prevented Mr. Trump from posting on the website. The company’s independent board of directors is currently debating whether the former president will be allowed back on Facebook and has announced that it will make its decision “in the coming weeks” without specifying a specific date.
The death of Mr. Floyd, who was black, sparked a wave of protests against Black Lives Matter across the country last year. Mr. Chauvin, a former white Minneapolis police officer, is charged with manslaughter, second degree murder, and third degree murder for the death of Mr. Floyd. The process started in late March. Mr. Chauvin did not testify.
Facebook said Monday it had found Minneapolis to be “a high-risk place”, at least temporarily. It said it would remove pages, groups, events, and Instagram accounts that violated its violence and incitement policy. Put down attacks on Mr. Chauvin and Mr. Floyd; and mark misinformation and graphic content as sensitive.
The company had no further comment.
“When the process comes to an end, we will continue to do our part to ensure that people can safely contact each other and share their experiences,” said Ms. Bickert in the blog post.