Fully exposed buttocks? Out. Genitals? Definitely out. But female breasts? Well, that’s complicated… though as long as you’re breast feeding it should be fine.
After a number of controversies, Facebook has finally settled its mind on what content is allowed on its platform — and revealed the thinking behind its community standards in stark new detail.
The revamped page contains clear and lengthy guidelines and explanations on all of its most controversial content.
And the key, it says, is for its 1.4 billion-strong user base to understand that no one system can be perfect.
“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,” it says.
“As a result, our policies can sometimes be more blunt than we would like and restrict content shared for legitimate purposes. We apologise for any inconvenience. We are continually re-evaluating how to balance people's interest in expression with the needs of our diverse, global community.”
- Photos of breasts: “We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring.”
- Naked statues are fine, but the line between porn and art is tough to define: “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. Some verbal descriptions of sexual acts that go into vivid detail may also be removed.”
- Hate-speech satire is maybe okay: “We allow humour, satire or social commentary related to these topics, but we may ask Page owners to associate their name and Profile 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.”
- Violence and graphic content is also complex: “Facebook has long been a place where people share their experiences and raise awareness about important issues. Sometimes, those experiences and issues involve violence and graphic images of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses or acts of terrorism. In many instances, when people share this type of content, they are condemning it or raising awareness about it. We remove graphic images when they are shared for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate or glorify violence.”
- On self-harm: “We don't allow the promotion of self-harm or suicide… We prohibit content that promotes or encourages suicide or any other type of self-harm, including self-mutilation and eating disorders. We don't consider body modification to be self-harm. We also remove any content that identifies victims or survivors of self-harm or suicide and targets them for attack, either seriously or humorously. People can, however, share information about the topic of self-harm and suicide that does not promote these things.”
- You can criticise politicians, but not threaten them: “We permit open and critical discussion of people who are featured in the news or have a large public audience based on their profession or chosen activities. We remove credible threats to public figures, as well as hate speech directed at them – just as we do for private individuals.”
- You can’t organise crimes: “We prohibit the use of Facebook to facilitate or organise criminal activity that causes physical harm to people, businesses or animals, or financial damage to people or businesses. We also prohibit you from celebrating any crimes that you've committed.”
- But you can address crimes in a satirical way: “People on Facebook are permitted to debate or advocate for the legality of criminal activities, as well as address them in a humorous or satirical way.”
- You can sell guns and sex toys, if your government lets you: “Additionally, if you post an offer to purchase or sell firearms, alcohol, tobacco or adult products, we expect you to comply with all applicable laws and carefully consider the audience for that content.”
The Family Online Safety Institute (Fosi), which forms one of five organisations of Facebook’s safety advisory board, said that the new standards were “readable and accessible”.
"I wish more social media sites and apps would follow suit,” said FOSI’s chief executive Stephen Balkam to the BBC.