Facebook terms hint it could take down content that may land it in legal trouble

An update to Facebook’s terms of service could enable it to take down content it thinks may potentially land the social network in legal or regulatory trouble.

The company sent out a notification to users in a number of countries, including Australia, the United States, India, and more, letting them know that the new policy will go into effect starting October 1.

Under Section 3.2 of Facebook’s terms on what its users are allowed to share and do, there’s a new paragraph that says: “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.”

Facebook's updating its Terms of Service starting Oct. 1, 2020. The company can "remove or restrict access to your content, services or information" if they determine it's necessary to avoid "adverse legal or regulatory" impacts to FB. pic.twitter.com/t2QTBsrGy6

— Ken Yeung (@thekenyeung) September 1, 2020

The notification was pushed after Facebook announced it may have to block users and publishers in Australia from sharing news on the platform due to landmark, new proposed legislation. The new Australian rules would force Facebook (among other tech giants) to compensate news publishers for their content.

Facebook has responded by threatening to cut off access to all news content in Australia.

In a statement to Digital Trends, a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the service changes were a global update.

The spokesperson added the update “provides more flexibility for us to change our services, including in Australia, to continue to operate and support our users in response to potential regulation or legal action.”

Users from the U.S., India, Bangladesh, Australia, and more on Twitter reported that they had received the alert as well.

Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has advocated for free speech and has even refused to take action on questionable content in the past to protect free expression.

“I’m proud that our values at Facebook are inspired by the American tradition, which is more supportive of free expression than anywhere else,” he said in a speech at Georgetown University last year. But it’s unclear how the new terms changes will be used should threats of regulation — like the proposed gutting of Section 230 protections in the U.S. — come true.

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