For a long time we were only able to speculate about Facebook’s mysterious policies dictating the type of content that’s forbidden on the platform, but on May 21, The Guardian leaked parts of Facebook’s private rulebook to the world. We finally know why moderators remove certain photos and allow others to remain; and posting content that goes against the site’s “community guidelines” can cause your account to be disabled.
Here are some of the things that might get you kicked off the website:
5. Sorta Threatening Trump
Normally, Facebook permits violent language unless it’s specific enough to imply a real threat. President Donald Trump, however, receives special protections because he’s a head of state, so you aren’t allowed to write vague and violent comments either, like, “Someone shoot Trump.”
4. Revenge Porn, If It’s Obvious
Revenge porn isn’t allowed, but non-nudity content can’t be taken down unless the moderator can “confirm” that it was published without consent. That confirmation can come in the form of a clearly “vengeful context (e.g. caption, comments, or page title),” or via “independent sources (e.g. media coverage, or LE record).”
3. Celebratory Animal Abuse Content
You can share images and video of animal abuse (though it may get marked “disturbing”), but you can’t act happy about it; this is called the “sadism and celebration restriction.” The rulebook lists examples of what you can’t say, including, “That dog looks sad and defeated. I like it.”
2. Celebratory Child Abuse Content
As with the last restriction, you can share content that documents child abuse — Facebook doesn’t want to delete evidence, and hopes to help kids get “identified and rescued” — but you can’t seem like you’re in favor of it.
1. A Photo of a Naked Child From the Holocaust
After Facebook’s infamous decision to remove a well-known photo of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack in the Vietnam War last year, they decided to allow “newsworthy exceptions” for nudity in relation to the “terror of war,” except when it comes to the Holocaust. Within the context of this genocide, adult nudity, but not child nudity, is permitted.
The Guardian noted that Facebook moderators review so much content that they frequently have “just 10 seconds” to decide whether or not to remove something.
Since the leak, many have spoken out against Facebook’s policies. A child safety charity condemned the child abuse rules, and some people expressed disappointment that Facebook lets bullying and violent, misogynistic language stand. The comments, “let’s beat up fat kids” and “to snap a bitch’s neck, make sure to apply all your pressure to the middle of her throat,” are listed in the rulebooks as examples of content that’s allowed.
Facebook’s community guidelines were already controversial, and these recent insights into the way the website enforces them adds even more fuel to the debate.