Videos and pictures of violent deaths, animal abuse, and self-harm are all allowed to be shared on Facebook, according to leaked internal guidelines obtained by The Guardian, which reviewed more than 100 of the social media giant’s internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts.
The documents highlight some glaring inconsistencies with the way the site polices its content. They also underscore how difficult it is to moderate a constant stream of posts from more than two billion users.
“Facebook cannot keep control of its content,” said one Facebook source to The Guardian. “It has grown too big, too quickly.”
Disturbing posts, like non-sexual child abuse, are flagged as “disturbing” but allowed to stay posted on Facebook because they “create awareness,” according to the files. Threats to a head of state, like “someone shoot Trump,” are to be taken down. But a posts that say, for example, that you are going to “snap a bitch’s neck,” are allowed since they are not viewed as credible threats.
One key finding showed that Facebook’s policy doesn’t stop people from live-streaming attempts to self-harm because it “doesn’t want to censor or punish people in distress.”
Facebook’s aim to tackle “revenge porn” is also included, with moderators looking for a lack of consent either by a post’s “vengeful context” or “independent sources,” like media reports.
There are some inconsistencies, as you’d imagine. Facebook’s policy on sexual material seems capriciously enforced, with the guidelines stating “all ‘handmade’ art showing nudity and sexual activity is allowed but digitally made art showing sexual activity is not.”
In an email response to TheWrap, Facebook shared a comment from Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management: “We work hard to make Facebook as safe as possible while enabling free speech. This requires a lot of thought into detailed and often difficult questions, and getting it right is something we take very seriously.”
The guidelines show that the social media giant leans toward conservatively censoring what its users post.