Meta is temporarily changing default Facebook comment settings in response to the Israel-Hamas war. The company said in an update that it is making the change in an effort to “protect people in the region from potentially unwanted or unwanted comments”.

Thanks to the change, only friends or followers of that contributor will be able to comment on newly created public Facebook posts. This is a radical step, as until now public posts on Facebook were open to comments from all users. Meta did not specify the number of accounts affected by the change, but said the restriction would apply to “people in the region.”

Meta further stated that will make it easier for Facebook users to delete comments in bulk and that it “disabled the feature that displays the first one or two comments below posts in the Feed”. The updates appear to be aimed at curbing potentially toxic comments at a time when tensions surrounding the conflict are increasingly spilling over onto social media. Meta also stated that will offer users in the affected region the function of “locking” the profile, which allows them to hide some previously public parts of the profile and prevent people who are not their friends from seeing their full-size profile photos.

The company also addressed claims that it secretly censored (so-called shadowbanning) sensitive posts that pointed to the dire living conditions of residents in Gaza or otherwise draw attention to how the ongoing conflict is affecting the Palestinians. Meta spokesman Andy Stone denied the claim. It is said that this was a bug that affected users around the world and that the problem with displaying posts had nothing to do with the war in Israel.