Facebook Inc. told users Tuesday local time that it can take off the shelves or block any content that could increase the social media giant’s regulatory or legal risks around the world — even if the content itself is not illegal, Bloomberg reported. The broad wording of the changes to the global terms of service, which came into effect on October 1, gives the US giant room to do whatever it thinks is necessary to maintain its business objectives in a changing regulatory environment.
Facebook said the change allowed it to prevent some Australian users from sharing news with publishers in a fightback against a proposed law that forced the company to pay for articles by media companies. But a company spokesman said the change would apply globally.
“If we determine that doing so is reasonably necessary to avoid or mitigate adverse legal or regulatory implications for Facebook, we may also remove or restrict access to your content, services or information,” the company wrote in a smartphone notification sent to users on Tuesday.
The update contrasts sharply with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s public statements about the importance of free speech.
Facebook has long struggled to address the extent to which content on its platform is regulated in the face of different laws for more than a billion users around the world. The issue became particularly sensitive in the run-up to November’s US election, with a surge in false information about Covid-19 during the new crown epidemic and increasing scrutiny of the company’s relationship between executives and those in power.