Facebook Updates Rules On Banned Content

John Lister's picture

Facebook has clarified its rules on what can and cannot be posted on the site. The changes are designed to bring more common sense, but critics say the rules still have inconsistencies.

The decision to remove posts, photos or videos is based on a set of rules known as Facebook's community guidelines. In the past, the guidelines have come under heavy criticism for being either too vague and broad, often seeming to outlaw content many people would consider acceptable, or allow content widely considered unacceptable.

Three years ago, leaked documents showed the instructions for previous community guidelines. The instructions were handed down to freelance contracted staff (often located in another country), and who were responsible for following up on complaints. The leaked documents suggested that there was little room for judgment from staff, and especially when taking into account the context of a post.

Topless Pics Allowed In Some Circumstances

Facebook has now revised its guidelines and has made substantially more effort in making details public.

Among the key changes are a relaxation of the rules on pictures of people without any clothing. Whereas this used to be a straightforward ban, the site will now allow such images if they are paintings or sculptures (unless deemed 'explicit'); if they are photos of a woman showing her scarring after a mastectomy; or if they are of a woman feeding her child. Other nudity remains banned, and Facebook has now clarified that this includes images "focusing in on fully exposed buttocks." (Source: fb.com)

At the same time, Facebook is cracking down on terrorism-related posts. It already banned posts from members of terrorist groups, but now will ban any post which praises such groups or their actions.

There's also a tweak to the rules on illegal activities. Users still aren't allowed to make posts depicting or celebrating illegal acts, but Facebook now specifically says it is OK to make posts arguing that such acts should be illegal. It's likely that change was sparked by people fearing they couldn't argue for the legalization of some drugs.

Celebrating Violence Not Allowed

The other main change is to graphically violent images and videos. Facebook now says it will remove such images if they appear to be posted to celebrate, glorify or take pleasure in the violence. They will still be allowed if the aim appears to be to expose and condemn such acts, such as human rights abuses. Facebook may ask users to give clear warnings when sharing such content.

While the new guidelines remove some unintended inconsistencies, the fact that Facebook does still allow some violent content while banning most images of people without clothes is still sparking criticism. Defenders of the site say it's difficult to produce guidelines that seem fair across the entire world, where cultural attitudes to controversial material vary widely. (Source: cnn.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Do the changes to Facebook's guidelines make the list of what you can and can't post more sensible? Should the site do more to remove content that could offend or distress users? Or should it take a hands-off approach and only remove content that breaks local laws?

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guitardogg's picture

In general these guidelines seems to make sense. Though ideally, you should be able to post anything you want when only your friends can see it. Public posts are another matter. Also, the challenge of satisfying a whole world of different cultures and standards is significant. Maybe the guidelines should be specific to where you live? Hard questions. Can a person who lives in Colorado, where pot is legal, post pics of themselves smoking a bong? Or a Californian with a medical license? I have the ultimate guideline on my Facebook posts, my mother is one of my "friends"!

AlpineKris's picture

How can it be, that a worldwide acting website does not cater to their foreign clients?

For an example: Cruelty on creatures in some parts of the world is not uncommon. Let them have their posts about it. But condemn those to this parts of the world.

In other parts of the world, smokeing drugs is illegal. It is not ilegal to show people consuming drugs (you can see this in TV and movies every day)If it is illegal to SHOW people consuming drugs in aeras of the world, then ban it there.

There is nothing unusual in Europe and other parts of the world to show nuduty. As long as its not explicit genitals, nobody will be harmed here, as this is daily content in TV, newspapers and magazines.

Zuckerberg is not the god of all media content. Make it regional, if you have to.

btw. I have heard that Americans get blind, if they see bare boobs... well at least the spuses of some men believe that ha ha ha.....