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After Google and Twitter, Facebook explains its content policy

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Everyone, for now, (except Facebook) has been updating their privacy policies: Google Blogger doesn’t want nudity, neither does Reddit and Twitter has blocked revenge porn. So where does Facebook stand on nudity, firearms and hate speech among others? Facebook has just answered that question in a long blog post, which further refined its “community standards.” Notably, Facebook is not changing its policies or standards.

Facebook complies with government and/or legal requests

This move just adds light to its existing policies because Facebook removes or blocks content which abides by its “Community Standards” but may violate regional or national laws (read: governments and courts). However, the company says that it “challenges” requests which appear “unreasonable or overbroad (sic)”. It also mentions that there might be some cases where “blocked” local content remains blocked only to users of that region but accessible worldwide and may not be “removed entirely”.

Facebook also added that all requests are moderated by humans. In order to report violations on pages, profiles of other content, users need to click the “report” button on the top right corner in the drop down: “We publish this information because we want people to know the extent and nature of the requests we receive from governments and the policies we have in place to process them.”

Here, we explain in two parts what is allowed and not allowed to be posted on Facebook:

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Facebook’s Community Guidelines allow:

    • Self-Injury: Info about self-injury or suicide is okay as long as it does not promote or take part in below mentioned options++. Body modification does not count as self injury.
    • Dangerous Organizations: Broad discussion and social commentary on terrorist activity or organized criminal activity groups is okay. But Facebook asks people to “show sensitivity towards victims of violence and discrimination.”
    • Nudity: Display of nudity and sexual activity (including digitally created content) for educational, humorous or satirical purposes. Photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures. Images of breastfeeding or breasts post-mastectomy scarring are allowed.
    • Hate speech: When sharing hate speech for “raising awareness or educating others”, the purpose should be stated clearly.
    • Attacks on Public Figures: “Open and critical discussion” of people in the news or those who have a large public audience based on their profession or chosen activities.
    • Regulated Goods: Offers to sell or purchase firearms, alcohol, tobacco, or adult products should comply with applicable laws and “careful consideration of the audience” for that content.

Facebook’s Community Guidelines do not allow:

    • Direct threats: Threatening language to identify serious threats of harm to public and personal safety, “credible threats” of physical harm to individuals, theft, vandalism or other financial harm. In violent and unstable regions, FB “assumes credibility”. Facebook reviews physical location and public visibility to verify credibility.
    • ++Self-Injury: Content promoting or encouraging suicide or any other type of self-injury, including self-mutilation and eating disorders. Content which identifies victims or survivors of self-injury or suicide and targets them for attack, either seriously or humorously.
    • Dangerous Organizations: Terrorist activity and organized criminal activity groups are prohibited. Support for groups that are involved in violent or criminal behavior is banned. Supporting or praising leaders of above mentioned organizations, or condoning their violent activities, is not allowed.
    • Bullying and Harassment: No degradation or shaming. No bullying or harassment. Doctored images, pages, photos, personal info to blackmail or harass, repeated unwanted friend requests or messages.
    • Nudity: No genitals or fully exposed buttocks. Some breasts with nipples. Explicit images of sexual intercourse are prohibited. Descriptions of sexual acts that go into “vivid detail” may also be removed.
    • Hate speech: Discrimination or attacks against race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, sex, gender, or gender identity, or serious disabilities or diseases. People and orgs dedicated to promoting hatred against protected groups will be banned.
    • Attacks on Public Figures: Credible threats and hate speech directed at public figures or private individuals.
    • Sexual Violence and Exploitation: Content which threatens or promotes sexual violence or exploitation (including sexual exploitation of minors and sexual assault). Photographs or videos depicting incidents of sexual violence and images shared in revenge or without permissions from the people in the images (in order to protect victims and survivors). Facebook’s definition of sexual exploitation includes solicitation of sexual material, any sexual content involving minors, threats to share intimate images, and offers of sexual services. Some content is even referred to law enforcement. Offers of sexual services include prostitution, escort services, sexual massages, and filmed sexual activity.
    • Regulated Goods: Unauthorised purchasing, selling or trading prescription drugs and marijuana. Facebook’s payment tools do not allow selling or purchasing regulated goods.

Note: Who are private individuals? People who have neither gained news attention nor the interest of the public, by way of their actions or public profession.

Previous Facebook developments:

– This month, Facebook restricted access to 5,832 pieces of content in India during the second half of 2014 (July- Dec 2014), the highest among all the countries in the world, according to the global transparency report released by the social network.

– It also tweaked things which could affect businesses which measure their success by the number of likes that they have. Facebook will be removing memorialized and voluntarily deactivated accounts from pages’ like counts to give more up-to-date and consistent information.

Note: The headline has been edited for clarity.

Image Credit: Flickr user Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

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Written By

I'm a MediaNama alumna from 2015-16 (remember TinyOwl?) now back to cover e-services like food and grocery delivery, app based transport and policies, platforms and media in India.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.



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