Facebook made updates to its banning policy on Monday. The popular social media site clarified what members are allowed to post and what will get them banned. The new community guidelines are three times as long as the old and are more specific about what behavior is and isn’t allowed on Facebook.
Facebook has previously not been consistent about what content users are allowed to share. Free sharing of information is encouraged on Facebook, but with such a vast and diverse global audience, Facebook is finding it difficult to make everyone happy. Facebook’s Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert said that the “landscape is complicated,” and they are trying to strike a balance in the community with the new policy updates.
Recent sudden reversal of policy standards has made Facebook seem wishy-washy on what they allow and don’t allow. For example, letting copycat pages stay published when original offending pages are taken down and banning some members for using false names while allowing other members to do the same. Facebook hopes that the new policy updates will take some of the confusion out of what is ultimately not allowed.
Some content on Facebook has always been banned and will continue to always be banned, such as terrorist groups and pornography. The new guidelines go into more detail and give examples of what isn’t allowed. Facebook now says that supporting terrorist groups is not allowed, as well as all other violent, criminal and hateful behavior. Facebook has also clarified that they will allow images of breastfeeding and post-mastectomy photos but not exposed buttocks or revenge porn.
Facebook users can still report content they feel is offensive, including spammy posts. Governments can also still request that Facebook take down posts they feel is objectionable. The online social networking service never plans to automatically scan and remove content, saying they still need the option to take into account the full context of each post. According to Bickert, every violation report is closely examined by a review team. She went on to say that all account suspension appeals are also read by real people to determine an appropriate outcome, but that users need to be patient because the review process takes time.
Clarifying Facebook’s rules helps not only Facebook users but also the people who review possible violations to decide what is permissible. “We can only do this if we have objective rules,” said Bickert. Facebook is also “thinking” about a dislike button. Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said in December during a Q&A session in California that users would like a dislike button as a way to say “that’s not something that we think is good for the world.”