Here’s something some Hollywood stars and executives may find interesting: Facebook, if requested, will delete news stories about where someone lives.
“If the article shows your home or apartment, says what city you’re in and you don’t like it, you can complain to Facebook,” media reporter Ben Smith wrote in The New York Times on Sunday. “Facebook will then ensure that nobody can share the article on its giant platform and, as a bonus, block you from sending it to anyone in Facebook Messenger.”
That little-known rule came to light after Smith tried finding out why Facebook had blocked users from sharing a recent New York Post article on BLM co-founder Patrisse Khan-Cullors’ real estate holdings. The Post’s story said the “self-described Marxist” had went on a home buying “binge” to the tune of $3.2 million.
The story was removed earlier this month for “violating our privacy and personal information policy,” a Facebook rep told TheWrap. The rep added that Facebook removes content that shares private information that could lead to physical or financial harm, including financial, medical or residential information.
As Smith noted in is article, that “sounds crazy” because it could apply to countless articles on celebrities buying and selling property. But according to Facebook’s policy, stars can complain if stories mention details on where they live — and Facebook will block those stories from being shared.
“The policy is superclear!” a Facebook lawyer exclaimed to Smith. But, the lawyer added, “I totally get why it sounds kind of crazy in this case.”
(Of course, this wasn’t the first time Facebook has taken action against a New York Post story. Last fall, the social network said it was “reducing” the reach of a Post story on Hunter Biden, son of then-presidential nominee Joe Biden.)
From a big picture standpoint, Smith points out this story shows the tension between a news outlet’s ability to decide what is newsworthy and Facebook’s arcane rules.
Smith asked: “In cases of difficult news judgment, who decides what counts as news? Will Facebook defer to publishers’ decisions on, for instance, which celebrity’s home purchase is worth covering? Or will Facebook delete a publisher’s link just as quickly as it deletes an individual’s post that it has decided violated its rules?”
He continued: “The answer, the lawyer told me, is simple: Facebook alone decides.”