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Leaked documents 'show Facebook's secret censorship rules'

The Guardian has published documents which claim to reveal what posts are and aren’t allowed on Facebook.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

REPORTERS IN THE UK say they’ve gained access to Facebook’s rules that decide what is and isn’t allowed on the social media site.

Yesterday, the Guardian published slides and documents allegedly circulated to Facebook staff members which give guidance on what posts are allowed on the site.

The documents also give the reasons as to why employees should or shouldn’t delete posts that contain nudity, bullying, violence, hatred, terrorism, racism or mental health issues.

Some of the comments that aren’t permitted include:

  • “Someone shoot Trump” (because he’s a head of state)
  • “#Stab and become the fear of the Zionist”

While comments that are permitted include:

  • “Kick a person with red hair”
  • “Let’s beat up fat kids”
  • “Little girl needs to keep to herself before daddy breaks her face” (because it’s considered ‘not credible’)

According to the Guardian:

  • Imagery of animal abuse can be shared on the site in general
  • Facebook will allow users to livestream attempts to self-harm because it “doesn’t want to censor or punish people in distress who are attempting suicide”
  • Facebook had to assess over 50,000 potential cases of revenge porn and ‘sextortion’ on the site in January.

The social media giant has previously been criticised for its censorship of posts, in particular when it removed an iconic shot of a naked girl escaping a napalm bombing during the Vietnam War.

That incident among others raised questions about how the site determines what posts are allowed, but have up until now remained secret.

Monika Bickert, ‎Facebook’s head of global policy management, told the Guardian that Facebook had over two billion users and that it was difficult to decide what to allow.

“We have a really diverse global community and people are going to have very different ideas about what is ok to share. No matter where you draw the line there are always going to be some grey areas. For instance, the line between satire and humour and inappropriate content is sometimes very grey. It is very difficult to decide whether some things belong on the site or not,” she said.

But she maintained that Facebook did have a responsibility to keep their users safe: “It’s absolutely our responsibility to keep on top of it. It’s a company commitment.”

Last October, Facebook said that they would allow more graphic newsworthy posts to be shared on the social network if they were of ‘public interest’.

“We’re going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to public interest – even if they might otherwise violate our standards,” Facebook vice presidents Joel Kaplan and Justin Osofsky said.

Read: Facebook apologises for another censorship slip, as it promises more graphic news

Read: Facebook does u-turn on censoring ‘napalm girl’ photo

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