New Yorkers react to Facebook’s clarification of what content is prohibited on its social media website, as the company strives to curb controversial posts.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (REUTERS) – Facebook Inc. clarified its rules banning certain content from its social network, as the Internet company strives to curb controversial posts such as support for violent militant groups and nudity without damaging its status as a global hub for users to share information.
The 1.39 billion-member social network updated its “community standards” late Sunday (March 15), providing specific examples of content prohibited under its general rules against direct threats, hate speech and criminal activity.
While Facebook has long forbidden groups it deems to be terrorist organizations from posting content on its service, the company specified that it will remove content that expresses support for such groups or praises their leaders.
Facebook also made clear that images “shared in revenge or without permission,” often referred to as “revenge porn,” are forbidden. But photos of women breast-feeding, post-mastectomy scarring and images of paintings and sculptures with nude figures are permissible.
The clarification comes as social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter Inc grapple with self-regulating technology that is as easily used for harassment and online bullying as it is for sharing sports videos and news articles.
“Having a voice is not some absolute state. It’s not the case that you either have a voice or you don’t,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on his Facebook page on Sunday.
Zuckerberg said Facebook was not actually changing any of its policies or standards, but merely providing more guidance.
“People rightfully want to know what content we will take down, what controversial content we’ll leave up, and why,” Zuckerberg wrote.
Images of graphic violence and nudity have long been problematic for Facebook.
In 2013, Facebook said it would use a broader set of criteria to determine when gory videos are permitted on the site after a video of a masked man beheading a woman in Mexico prompted an outcry. The company has also been criticized for allowing pages that glorify violence against women.
Militant groups such as Islamic State have increasingly used social media to spread their message.
In New York, Facebook users seemed to have mixed opinions over the guidelines.
A woman who only gave her name as Kate, said she already stopped posting on Facebook.
“I enjoy reading other people’s posts and catching up on my friends’ news but I absolutely believe there’s no privacy involved in the site. And frankly, I’m not entitled to it. It’s free, I don’t pay for it, it’s a service they provide and they’re allowed to monetize it or do whatever they want to with those posts,” she said.
New Yorker Tricia Campbell says she doesn’t think some of the rules with regards to nudity are tough enough. “I don’t think a mom whipping out her breast and breast feeding on Facebook is cool. I don’t want to see it in public and I don’t want to see it on Facebook.”
However, most people who talked to Reuters said that while the rules are not new, they are not pleased that Facebook has the ability to curb their posting.
“I’m not somebody who would pull up nude pix or violent stuff on Facebook, so it doesn’t affect me that much. But I don’t want to be too restricted in how I use it though,” said Sai Gokul.
New Yorker Sandra Martinez said she felt that unless content was criminal, she didn’t think the company should have a right to interfere with individual posts. “We should able to post according to our own ideas and manipulate our own accounts,” she said.
Facebook also said on Sunday that it recorded a slight increase in government requests for account data in the second half of 2014.
Requests for account data increased to 35,051 in the second half of 2014 from 34,946 in the first half, with requests from countries such as India rising and those from others, including the United States and Germany, falling.