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May 29, 2017 | by  | in News |
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Facebook Files

CW: The following article includes discussion of child abuse


Last week the Guardian released a series of internal policy documents detailing how Facebook determines what content is permissible for its users to post.

Dubbed the “Facebook Files”, the documents reveal rules and guidelines for moderators when it comes to content that may be offensive or inappropriate. Broad categories identified in documents include terrorism, hate-speech, sextortion and revenge porn, child abuse, violence, and cruelty to animals.

Particularly controversial has been Facebook’s approach to content containing non-sexual child abuse where internal policy documents state “we allow ‘evidence’ of child abuse to be shared on the site to allow for the child to be identified and rescued, but we add protections to shield the audience.”

Critics point to the fact that authorities can trace the source of posts even after they are removed from the site. Claire Lilley, Head of Child Safety Online at the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children in the UK, told the Guardian that “Facebook are not the arbiter of social norms and expectations.”

“They shouldn’t get to decide what’s in the best interests of children or the public.”

The head of Global Policy Management for Facebook, Monika Bickert, stated on May 23 that “Our standards change over time. We are in constant dialogue with experts and local organisations, on everything from child safety to terrorism to human rights.”  

“Sometimes this means our policies can seem counterintuitive.”

British Labour MP, and former chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee, said “these files demonstrate why powerful social media companies, including Facebook, have to be more transparent.”

“They also show why we were right to call on social media companies to urgently review their community guidelines, as too much harmful and dangerous content is getting through.”

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