Geneva : UN slams Facebook move on violent messages
: The UN voiced alarm on Friday at Facebook's decision to temporarily ease its policy on violent speech after Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, warning this could spark ''hate speech'' against Russians.

The policy decision from Facebook and Instagram's parent company Meta on Thursday said the platforms now allow statements like ''death to Russian invaders'' but not credible threats against civilians.

''This is clearly a very, very complex issue, but it does raise some concerns under the terms of human rights law and international humanitarian laws,'' UN rights office spokeswoman told reporters in Geneva.

In its statement on Thursday, Meta said : We have temporarily made allowances for forms of political expression that would normally violate our rules ........ on violent speech such as 'death to the Russian invaders'.

It added that it ''still won't allow credible calls for violence against Russian civilians.''

Throssell warned  that the new policy lacked clarity, which ''could certainly contribute to hate speech directed at Russians in general''.

''That would be really concerning,'' she said, adding that the UN rights office planned to raise its concerns with Meta.

Russia, meanwhile, restricted access to Instagram and launched a criminal case against its owner Meta.

A  day after Meta said it had temporarily eased its rules to allow calls for violence, Russia's media regulator said it was restricting access to Instagram.

Russia's Investigative Committee, which probes major crimes, also said it was launching an investigation of Meta, and prosecutors pushed for the Silicon Valley giant to be branded ''extremist''.

Meta's statement on the ease policy followed a report that said the change applied to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia and Ukraine, citing the firm's emails to its content moderators.

The war in Ukraine is running parallel with a period of unprecedented crackdown on the Russian opposition, which has included protest leaders being assassinated, jailed or forced out of the country.

Big US tech firms Apple and Microsoft have announced they are halting the sale of their products in Russia, while other companies have made public their ''pauses'' of certain business activities or ties. [Agencies]


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