DALLAS (NEXSTAR) — Facebook users across the nation have received notifications about new terms of service that allow the social media giant to remove content or restrict access if Facebook decides removing a post is “reasonably necessary to avoid or mitigate adverse legal or regulatory impacts.”
According to the notification, the change is set to take place October 1. Here’s the exact wording:
Effective October 1, 2020, section 3.2 of our Terms of Service will be updated to include: “We also can remove or restrict access to your content, services or information if we determine that doing so is reasonably necessary to avoid or mitigate adverse legal or regulatory impacts to Facebook.”
The terms of service update appears to expand Facebook’s ability to remove content if it feels the company could face legal ramifications. If you’re looking for further clarification on what type of content can be removed, you’ll likely have to wait until the terms of service take effect next month.
Immediately, reaction began to roll in on social media with users concerned the update amounts to online censorship.
“We will remove content not because it is incorrect, misleading, illegal, or spreads dangerous misinformation, but because removing it might help prevent us from getting caught allowing it,” posted one Twitter user.
It’s possible the move is linked to Facebook’s threat to block Australian publishers and individuals from sharing news stories on its platform. Facebook made the move in reaction to an Australian measure that would require it to compensate media organizations for its use of their stories. The social network said the policy would force it to pay arbitrary and theoretically unlimited sums for information that makes up only a small fraction of its service.
“It will become impossible to trust anything on FB so users will have to go elsewhere,” tweeted David Swan, Technology Editor at The Australian.
Other users believe the policy might be a good thing — noting Facebook could take down misleading and false information that easily spreads on its platform. However, plenty of others are less positive about the change noting it happens just days before the general election.
“Did you see the new Facebook terms of service? Smells like Election interference and censorship to me,” tweeted one user.