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Facebook to relax its censorship of posts deemed in the public interest

Posted on October 26, 2016

 

Facebook has decided to amend its censorship rules on posts so that something containing graphic or violent content can be permitted if it’s in the public interest. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

What censorship rules?

From my experience, what Facebook allows and what it censors is a completely random decision. I have seen the most deplorable images allowed, even after being reported, and I have seen images of personal trainers being removed for showing an ‘unhealthy body image’.

personal-trainer

Facebook needs to get its own house in order before it starts to tell us what is and what is not in the public interest. Some of its censorship decisions defy logic.

For example, we recently ran a Facebook Ad campaign for a client that asked if ‘you were paying too much…’ for a particular service. The ad text for the Facebook post was rejected by Facebook for the use of the word ‘you’ as it’s against their standards to suggest that someone might being doing something that needs changing. It’s apparently offensive.

Say what now?

That’s right, offensive. You know those ads that ask ‘are you paying too much for your car insurance’? Facebook wouldn’t allow them, because some people might be offended that you’ve suggested they’re paying too much for their car insurance.

Bigotry and racism, all perfectly fine. The suggestion that you could be overpaying for something, unacceptable.

Facebook really has issues with what it considered offensive and what it allows.

Another issue of Facebook’s seemingly arbitrary policies regarding what is and what is not acceptable is the constant stream of scam posts and fake pages cropping up on a daily basis. I, myself, have reported dozens of scam posts over the last 12 months. These aren’t subtle scams now, they’re really obvious ‘you’d have to be seriously stupid to fall for them’ type of posts. The sort of posts only the most gullible of society believe and share on Facebook. You know, posts like these.

These type of posts angered me so much I made the following video about them and I share this video in the comments of every one of these scams I see posted on Facebook.

Yet, when you report these posts to Facebook do they act? Do they heck?

I have even notified Mercedes about one of the scam posts on Facebook when a fake page was set up pretending to be them. Mercedes replied saying they knew about it and had reported it themselves. Even Mercedes has reported these posts and Facebook still can’t be bothered to act.

Yet if someone shares something about breast cancer they’re all over that action. Just who is deciding on these posts at Facebook? What idiot do they have decreeing what is offensive?

Well now they’re going to be allowing a lot more, according to reports from the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Mirror.

Facebook issued a statement commenting:

“We’re going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant or important to public interest – even if they might otherwise violate our standards.”

That’s all well and good, but how is that going to work in practice? Offense can’t be given, it can only be taken, and Facebook is in no position to determine what is and is not offensive. Posts will be reported by people regardless of their content because someone will always be offended by something, whether it’s a photo of a woman breastfeeding (which seems to offend a lot of really stupid people) or a photo of a dad bathing one of his children. Both of these examples have been removed by Facebook in the past. Facebook even censored one of the most famous war images ever captured because it contained child nudity. They backed down on that one though.

Meanwhile, posts and groups set up to promote religious hatred and racism are perfectly acceptable as, presumably, that’s just people voicing their opinions and expressing their rights to free speech.

Facebook has a long way to go before it strikes the right balance, and proud boasts about how it’s changing its censorship for posts that are newsworthy seem a little shallow when it can’t even get the simple things right.

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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