Social Media has become our way of life and has provided platforms for advocacy in today’s civic spaces and as a common saying goes; if it’s not on social media, it’s not happening.
It’s therefore going without saying that the Ukraine crisis is playing out on social media and considering just how disinformation, misinformation and hate speech spreads on social media like bushfire, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter have taken up measures to curb these vices.
Facebook for instance has announced what it calls “extensive steps to fight the spread of misinformation and restrictions around state-controlled media outlets”.
Meta is prohibiting Russian state media from running ads or monetizing on the platform anywhere in the world.
The changes took effect from February 26th.
“We also continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media,” said Head of security policy at Meta, Nathaniel Gleicher.
Russia on Friday said it was restricting access to Meta Platform Inc.’s Facebook after the company allegedly blocked the pages of four Russian media outlets the day before.
Facebook has also introduced the “locked profiles” option to restrict the “search for friends” option for all profiles in Russia and Ukraine in a move the company says is aimed at protecting users from being targeted.
“In addition to rolling out Locked Profiles in Ukraine, we have also temporarily removed the ability to view and search the “Friends” list for Facebook accounts in Ukraine to help protect people from being targeted” Meta announced.
Twitter on her part has temporarily banned Ads from both Russia and Ukraine saying the move is aimed to “ensure critical public safety information is elevated and ADs don’t detract from it”.
“As people look for credible information on Twitter regarding the Russian invasion of Ukraine, we understand and take our role seriously. Our product should make it easy to understand who’s behind the content you see, and what their motivations and intentions are”.
Twitter is also adding labels to Tweets that share links to Russian state-affiliated media websites, while it’s also reducing the circulation of this content by removing it from recommendations, downranking it in algorithm-defined timelines and more.
“Since the invasion, we’ve seen more than 45,000 Tweets a day sharing links to Russian state-affiliated media outlets. While we’ve labeled the accounts of hundreds of global state media outlets for years, Tweets sharing their content lacked visible context,” said Head of Site Integrity at Twitter, Yoel Roth
Twitter Political Ad Policy
Twitter actually has a global political Ad policy that banned political ads, including those from state-affiliated media, in 2019, making it a leader in curbing hate speech online.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey while announcing the ban in 2019 said “political message reach should be earned not bought”, a move that was widely praised.
Google-owned YouTube has announced that it’s restricting access to Russian state-owned media outlets for users in Ukraine, at the request of the Ukrainian Government.
Youtube has also suspended monetization for several Russian channels.
YouTube’s also removing Russian state-owned channels from recommendations, and limiting the reach of their uploads across the platform.
“As always, our teams are continuing to monitor closely for news developments, including evaluating what any new sanctions and export controls may mean for YouTube,” a company spokesperson said.
The China-based Bytedance company that runs Tik Tok has not issued any formal position regarding the Ukraine/Russian crisis even as videos perpetuating misinformation and fake news continue to be uploaded on the platform.