Facebook leaked documents shows its policy to moderate hate speech, pornography

Marcus Newton
May 23, 2017

Dubbed as Facebook's 'internal rulebook, ' the guidelines decide what their 2 billion plus users can and cannot post in a series of manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts.

The folks over at The Guardian got their hands on and posted snippets of Facebook's "internal rulebook on sex, terrorism, and violence".

Stretching to thousands of documents, the trove of papers illustrate the complex web of rules and regulations used to govern what is allowed and what is not; including apparent inconsistencies in approach which treat a threat to kill the USA president far more seriously than a similar threat to take the life of an ordinary member of the public. It also leaves many postings up in a bid to support freedom of expression.

In a weird policy, Facebook is also comfortable with people live streaming suicide attempts, because it "doesn't want to censor or punish people in distress who are attempting suicide".

Facebook's head of global policy management Monike Bickert told the newspaper it was hard to reach a consensus on what to allow with almost two billion users.

The listed company is believed to review in excess of 6.5 million reports of potentially fake accounts a week.

The Facebook guidelines state: "We do not allow people to share photos or videos where people or animals are dying or injured if they also express sadism".

"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.

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According to its slideshows, Facebook told staff that any threats made against heads of state, such as USA president Donald Trump, will be taken down as soon as possible.

Similarly, videos of bullying that do not show a "sadistic or celebratory element" will be deemed ok to appear in your Facebook feed. That tag is only used for the most "extremely upsetting" images of animal abuse, however.

Violent videos, including self-harm, did not always have to deleted because they were marked as disturbing and could create awareness.

Abortions are allowed to be shown as long as there is no nudity. Another example of "generic" threats that Facebook would not remove was: "To snap a bitch's neck, make sure to apply all your pressure to the middle of her throat".

There are concerns about the inconsistency of some policies, in particular, those surrounding the uploading of sexual content. This is the Internet, after all, where many people feel empowered to say inappropriate things and act in a manner that is completely different than how they might act in real life.

However, the footage will be removed "once there's no longer an opportunity to help the person" - unless the incident is particularly newsworthy. "For this reason we offer people who use Facebook the ability to customise and control what they see by unfollowing, blocking or hiding posts, people, pages and applications they don't want to see".

All "handmade" art showing nudity and sexual activity is allowed but digitally made art showing sexual activity is not.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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