Facebook says it’s taking extra moderation measures around the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of murdering Minneapolis man George Floyd last year. As a verdict in the trial approaches, Facebook has designated Minneapolis a “high-risk location” where it will seek and remove calls to bring weapons to events. It will also remove content that “praises, celebrates, or mocks George Floyd’s death.”
Facebook content moderation VP Monika Bickert outlined preparations for a verdict in a blog post this morning. “We want to strike the right balance between allowing people to speak about the trial and what the verdict means, while still doing our part to protect everyone’s safety,” Bickert writes. Users can “discuss, critique, and criticize the trial and the attorneys involved,” but Facebook will remove content that violates its policies, and it “may also limit the spread of content that our systems predict is likely to violate our Community Standards.” And it will “remove events organized in temporary, high-risk locations that contain calls to bring arms.”
The company will delete “severe” attacks on Chauvin, although Facebook considers the former officer a public figure for “voluntarily placing himself in the public eye” — as opposed to Floyd, who is granted a higher standard of protection.
Much of Bickert’s post outlines steps Facebook is supposed to take with all content. But it indicates that Facebook could be particularly vigilant in, for instance, removing incendiary event pages around Minneapolis. Last year, the company was criticized for not removing a self-proclaimed militia’s “call to arms” in Kenosha, Wisconsin, until a fatal shooting took place during the event.
Facebook made a similar announcement last month around the mass shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, when it banned any posts that celebrated the attack or the alleged killer. However, Chauvin’s trial is a more potentially volatile situation, especially as footage of police violence — like the shooting of 13-year-old Adam Toledo — has spread on social media during it. Facebook says that “given the risk of violence following the announcement of the verdict, regardless of what it is, we remain in close contact with local, state and federal law enforcement” after the verdict.