Why now? President Trump's campaign placed ads this month giving false statements about Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Biden's campaign asked media and digital platforms to stop advertising; CNN took it down, but Facebook kept them up.
- Then, Senator Elizabeth Warren provoked Facebook with a deliberately deceptive Facebook ad claiming the company had endorsed Trump – before admitting it was a ruse to reveal flaws in Facebook's policies. Facebook kept that ad up too.
- Most recently on Twitter, Senator Kamala Harris has demanded that Trump's account get hold of the president's repeated attacks on, among other things, Ukraine's notifications.
The big picture: The online forum has always faced giants about "where you draw the line." But now as a troll vs. the moderator game is played on stage in national politics, neither Facebook nor Twitter wants to play at all. Their solution: carve out some special rights for politicians.
What the wrist can't say, in Facebook ads or posts:
- They can't misrepresent the voting process, such as when an election is made, the rules or how to vote.
- Their ads can't include profanity, as Trump's campaign found out.
- They cannot post to social media that has been flagged by a fact-checker.
- Although not held to standards in actual circumstances, they must follow Facebook's other social standards, such as those with hateful expressions.
Between the lines: It gets even more rotating, since politicians can take an already debunked claim and repeat it in their own ads. However, a regular user cannot take a false claim from a politician's ad and repeat the same words without breaking Facebook's rules. Admittedly, they are free to share that political ad.
Twitter defines a class of "world-leading" users who "are or represent a government / elected official, run for public office or are considered for a government position," and who also have more than 100 000 followers and confirmed.
- In theory, world leaders are meant to follow the rules that apply to everyone else. It will mean no threats of violence, no promotion of terrorism, no participation in targeted harassment and no harassment of people of a particular race, religion, sexuality or gender.
- But Twitter says it can provide the posts even if politicians break rules because of the "news value" of their comments.
- The company states that it reserves the right to restrict the promotion of such tweets and to clearly note that the content has violated Twitter's rules. But it has never taken this step since announced the policy in June.
Highlights: Each platform's rules has its own quirks. But both divide their users into two groups – giving one of them a fundamental broader freedom to violate ethical and social norms in the posts and not be punished.
Outlier: Google-owned YouTube states that the guidelines are not "speaker-based" but are content-oriented.
- "Everyone who uploads videos on YouTube is subject to our policies, including politicians," according to YouTube spokesman Farshad Shadloo.