Facebook leaked documents show types of content it allows: Guardian

Alicia Cross
May 23, 2017

British newspaper The Guardian has revealed the types of content allowable on Facebook after it managed to obtain internal training manuals and spreadsheets of the social media giant.

The Guardian received more than 100 of the company's documents including tables and flowcharts, which granted unprecedented access to the internal regulations that affect more than 2 million users' posts. Earlier this month, CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook's operations team is expanding with 3,000 new hires to add to the 4,500 people who are already keeping an eye out for violent posts.

Facebook moderators were recently told to "escalate" to senior managers any content related to "13 Reasons Why", the Netflix original drama series based on the suicide of a high school student, because it feared inspiration of copycat behavior, the Guardian reported. One source says the company simply can't handle all the content and that it has grown "too big, too quickly".

The Guardian's so-called "Facebook files" reveal that the company sometimes purposefully allows controversial content - such as videos of violent deaths and photos of animal abuse - to help raise awareness of certain issues.

In addition, images of animal abuse may be shared, as well as artistic works showing nudity and sexual activity - as long as they have not been digitally created.

Facebook's head of global policy management, Monika Bickert, said it was always going to be hard to create standards when things aren't necessarily black and white. Images of non-sexual abuse or the bullying of children are acceptable as long as it doesn't show "a sadistic or celebratory element". "That includes video of violent human deaths, which are flagged as 'disturbing" but not, as a rule, removed.

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The investigation could not have come at a worse time for the social networking site as it faces mounting public pressure to disallow the publishing of disturbing Facebook Live content such as murders and sexual assaults. Facebook defines revenge porn as sharing nude/near-nude photos of someone publicly or to people whom they didn't want to see them in order to shame or embarrass them.

"We have a really diverse global community and people are going to have very different ideas about what is OK to share".

"We're going to make it simpler to report problems to us, faster for our reviewers to determine which posts violate our standards and easier for them to contact law enforcement if someone needs help", said Bickert. For example, statements like "someone shoot Trump" would be eligible for deletion; "let's beat up fat kids" would not.

The revelations of how the website moderates content that can be considered abusive, violent or sexualised - including pornography and self-harm - appear inconsistent and confusing.

'These measures will help make Britain the best place in the world to start and run a digital business, and the safest place in the world for people to be online'.

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