Facebook releases content moderation guidelines – rules long kept secret - Full Gist News


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Facebook releases content moderation guidelines – rules long kept secret

Facebook releases content moderation guidelines – rules long kept secret

A year after the Guardian revealed Facebook’s secret rules for content moderation, the company has released a public version of its guidelines for what is and is not allowed on the site, and for the first time created a process for individuals to appeal censorship decisions.

The disclosure comes amid a publicity blitz by the company to regain users’ trust following the Observer’s revelation in March that the personal Facebook data of tens of millions of users was improperly obtained by a political consultancy.

In a Facebook post on Tuesday, the company’s chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said that the publication of the guidelines was a step toward his personal goal “to develop a more democratic and independent system for determining Facebook’s Community Standards”.

The 27-page document provides insight into the rationale Facebook uses to develop its standards, which must balance users’ safety and the right to free expression while maintaining a sufficiently sanitized platform for advertisers.

The company has long banned content from terrorist organizations and hate groups, for example, but the document reveals how Facebook actually defines such groups.

Facebook releases content moderation guidelines – rules long kept secret

“You have told us that you don’t understand our policies; it’s our responsibility to provide clarity,” said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s vice-president of global policy management, in a blogpost.

Other details include bans on posts in which an individual admits to using non-medical drugs “unless posted in a recovery context”, posts that compare a private individual to “animals that are culturally perceived as intellectually or physically inferior or to an inanimate object”, and images that include the “presence of by-products of sexual activity” unless the content is intended to be satirical or humorous.

One guideline bans images that include a “visible anus and/or fully nude close-ups of buttocks unless photoshopped on a public figure”. Spam messages are not allowed to “promise non-existent Facebook features”. The company also bans so-called “false flag” assertions (eg claiming that the victims of a violent tragedy are lying or are paid actors), defining such statements as harassment.

Facebook’s role as a global publisher – and censor – has long created controversy for the platform, and free speech advocates have for years advocated for more transparency from Facebook around its decision-making process for content takedowns.

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