Former President Donald Trump has officially thrown his hat in the ring for 2024, meaning a Meta policy exempts him from fact-checking.
Trump will continue to be banned from Facebook, but parent company Meta’s policy regarding active politicians will prevent anything that he says from being subjected to third-party fact-checkers. This means anyone, including pages affiliated with the Trump campaign, will be able to post his content, according to a memo that was reportedly circulated Tuesday night prior to the former president’s big announcement.
In 2019, Meta’s then-Vice President of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg defended the exemption, saying “it is not our role to intervene when politicians speak.” Clegg himself is a former politician, perhaps explaining his desire to maintain the policy.
“Political speech is ineligible for fact-checking. This includes the words a politician says as well as photo, video, or other content that is clearly labeled as created by the politician or their campaign,” the memo reads.
“We define a ‘politician’ as candidates running for office, current office holders – and, by extension, many of their cabinet appointees – along with political parties and their leaders,” it explained further.
Meta spokesperson Andy Stagg says that this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who might be upset at this development, as this rule has been in place for quite some time.
“A reiteration of our long-standing policy should not be news to anyone.”
Unfortunately for Trump fans and those looking to communicate with him directly on the platform, he is still banned on Facebook since the events of January 6. However, Meta may look into lifting that ban and allowing Trump to access his account perhaps as early as January, as it will be two years since the riot at the Capitol took place.
For those who can’t or don’t want to wait until then, the page “Team Trump,” run by the former president’s political group, is still active and has more than 2.3 million followers.
But while Meta claims that it does not want to meddle in the realm of political speech, Facebook had no problem towing the Big Tech line and censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election between Trump and President Joe Biden.
During an interview with Joe Rogan, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended the decision to “decrease” the distribution of the story and push it to the bottom of people’s feeds.
“I think it was five or seven days when it was basically being determined whether it was false. The distribution on Facebook was decreased, but people were still allowed to share it. So you could still share it. You could still consume it,” he argued.
It remains to be seen how Facebook and Big Tech in general will handle another Trump election cycle, and whether their policy regarding fact-checking politicians will hold strong.
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