Facebook Tries to Add Clarity to Its Community Standards

How does Facebook draw the line between what users are allowed to post and what types of content should be banned? The social network attempted to clarify its policies with Monday’s release of updated community standards.

FacebookHappyFamilyHow does Facebook draw the line between what users are allowed to post and what types of content should be banned? The social network attempted to clarify its policies with Monday’s release of updated community standards.

The revised community standards are divided into four sections:

  • Helping to keep you safe.
  • Encouraging respectful behavior.
  • Keeping your account and personal information secure.
  • Protecting your intellectual property.

For example, Facebook’s policy on images that contain nudity has been called into question in the past, and the social network wrote on the subject:

People sometimes share content containing nudity for reasons like awareness campaigns or artistic projects. We restrict the display of nudity because some audiences within our global community may be sensitive to this type of content — particularly because of their cultural background or age. In order to treat people fairly and respond to reports quickly, it is essential that we have policies in place that our global teams can apply uniformly and easily when reviewing content. As a result, our policies can sometimes be more blunt than we would like and restrict content shared for legitimate purposes. We are always working to get better at evaluating this content and enforcing our standards.

We remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks. We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breast-feeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures. Restrictions on the display of both nudity and sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless the content is posted for educational, humorous or satirical purposes. Explicit images of sexual intercourse are prohibited. Descriptions of sexual acts that go into vivid detail may also be removed.

And on hate speech, Facebook clarified:

Facebook removes hate speech, which includes content that directly attacks people based on their:

  • Race
  • Ethnicity
  • National origin
  • Religious affiliation
  • Sexual orientation
  • Sex, gender or gender identity
  • Serious disabilities or diseases.

Organizations and people dedicated to promoting hatred against these protected groups are not allowed a presence on Facebook. As with all of our standards, we rely on our community to report this content to us.

People can use Facebook to challenge ideas, institutions and practices. Such discussion can promote debate and greater understanding. Sometimes people share content containing someone else’s hate speech for the purpose of raising awareness or educating others about that hate speech. When this is the case, we expect people to clearly indicate their purpose, which helps us better understand why they shared that content.

We allow humor, satire or social commentary related to these topics, and we believe that when people use their authentic identity, they are more responsible when they share this kind of commentary. For that reason, we ask that page owners associate their names and Facebook profiles with any content that is insensitive, even if that content does not violate our policies. As always, we urge people to be conscious of their audience when sharing this type of content.

While we work hard to remove hate speech, we also give you tools to avoid distasteful or offensive content. Learn more (https://www.facebook.com/help/359033794168099/) about the tools we offer to control what you see. You can also use Facebook to speak up and educate the community around you. Counter-speech in the form of accurate information and alternative viewpoints can help create a safer and more respectful environment.

Facebook head of global policy management Monika Bickert and deputy general counsel Chris Sonderby offered more details in a Newsroom post:

Today we are providing more detail and clarity on what is and is not allowed. For example, what exactly do we mean by nudity, or what do we mean by hate speech? While our policies and standards themselves are not changing, we have heard from people that it would be helpful to provide more clarity and examples, so we are doing so with today’s update.