Facebook Unveils 'Content Rules'

John Lister's picture

Facebook has, for the first time, published the full details of what types of content and posts breach its rules. The list had previously been kept secret and seen only by moderators who vet requests to take down content.

The full list of "community standards" is broken down into six categories: violence and criminal behavior; safety; objectionable content; integrity and authenticity; respecting intellectual property; and content-related requests. (Source: facebook.com)

In the first section, staff are to take into account the tone and context when dealing with threats of violence. The policy is to only take action (such as deleting content, closing accounts or calling the police) when the threat of harm is credible. The idea is to avoid action on 'threats' that are made "in facetious and non-serious ways."

Drugs & Guns Policy Unveiled

The policy on regulated goods is likely to be controversial now it's been made public. While the overall policy is to comply with legal restrictions, Facebook says it tries to be as consistent as possible across jurisdictions. That means that it generally blocks posts relating to the sale and promotion of pharmaceutical drugs, marijuana and firearms, even in areas where such sales are legal.

The rules appear to block anyone from buying and selling pharmaceuticals through Facebook itself, but don't necessarily rule out advertisements for potentially addictive painkillers, a topic that earned criticism during recent politician questioning of Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg. (Source: cnbc.com)

Topless Protest Pics Now OK

Facebook does also say it's updated its rules when it comes to imagery of people without clothing.

Originally it had a blanket ban as the only surefire way to avoid having any "non-consensual or underage content." However, photographs of artworks such as paintings and sculptures are now allowed. Meanwhile topless photographs of women are not permitted as a general rules, but exceptions can be made if the image has been made as a political process, if it depicts feeding a baby, or if it is in a medical context such as showing scarring after a mastectomy.

Another area of controversy is what Facebook calls "false news", likely as an attempt to avoid the politically charged term "fake news." Although the site says "Reducing the spread of false news on Facebook is a responsibility that we take seriously", it doesn't want to crack down on satire. As a compromise it says it is reducing the economic incentives to share misinformation and that the aim is to reduce the prominence of "false news" rather than attempt to remove it altogether.

What's Your Opinion?

Was Facebook smart to make the content rules public? Has it made the right compromises in setting guidelines? Is nuance and judgment ever really possible when assessing such a huge amount of content?

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gmthomas44_4203's picture

Facebook rules= fake rules. Facebook still censors everything as their "rules" are standards determined by
Facebook. How hard is that to figure out?

LouisianaJoe's picture

Objectionable content is determined by Facebook. In the past political filters were applied. An example is Diamond and Silk, 2 black conservative ladies that were kicked off of Facebook and Youtube. They are back now due to some comments made in Congress when Zuckerburg testified.