Melbourne paper, ‘Sunday Herald Sun’ has reported that Facebook is set to loosen the social media’s community standards to allow more ‘graphic content for news items, (Sunday Herald Sun, October, 23 2016 ‘Facebook to allow more graphic content’ p. 6). Facebook’s vice presidents Joel Kaplan and Justin Osofsky has confirmed this in a blog post published on Friday.
I couldn’t care less either way, to be frank. I use Facebook almost daily and have never had any problem personally with their Community Standards. However, what disturbs me and makes me sceptical about this announcement, is that over the years, Facebook has come under fire for double standards when it comes to censorship. Now, true, a company can hold any standards and expectations from users that they want. But when they don’t remain consistent, that’s what grinds my gears.
Misplaced censorship by Facebook
An event I can think of immediately is a case surrounding writer Clementine Ford. Last year (I think), she allegedly received rape threats via the Facebook messages by a teenager. She alerted Facebook about the messages, but no action was taken. To expose this abuser, Ford published the content of the messages on her own Facebook profile and her account was temporarily closed down because it breached Facebook’s “Community Standards”. Now, I’m not a fan of Clementine Ford, to be honest. I’ve written before that women like her do give feminism a bad name. But why didn’t Facebook ban her online abuser? \
Another more historical example is controversial decisions that Facebook has made in the past in regard to photos of new mothers breast feeding. I think they have cleaned up their act surrounding this, but at the time this ban was going on, I read a comment about photos of a sexual nature (I won’t go into details), not being removed. How does that work?! Seriously!
To be balanced, Facebook have also come under fire for supposedly censoring same – sex marriage opponents in 2015 and this year. One allegation I’ve heard was about the conservative Christian page, “Family Voice Australia”, which, according to what was told to Andrew Bolt on Sky’s “The Bolt Report”, had one of their posts deleted by the company. The post allegedly reported on the vote that prevented same – sex marriage being legalised in Austria back in July. Now, I didn’t read the post and if that was the extent of it – pointing out Austria’s failure to legalise same – sex marriage, then that’s overkill. Social media should be able to provide a platform where debate is encouraged and both conservatives and liberals are welcome. Then again, like the Milo Yiannopoulos Twitter ban, there could be more to the story. Watch Secular talk’s Kyle Kulinski’s explanation on the reason why Yiannopoulos was allegedly banned:
(CW: coarse language)
So, with the Family Values’ post, I didn’t read it, I don’t know whether it was totally accurate, or how it was worded. I’m not saying, that the post breached any of the Facebook Community Standards, or, possibly breached possible legal standards, as was allegedly the case with Yiannopoulos on Twitter. But I’m not willing to say that Family Values Australia is completely blame – free either. However, if they were banned simply for having a conservative view on same – sex marriage, then that’s not right and dare I say, not a smart commercial move on Facebook’s part.
What about latest revelations?
Again, I don’t necessarily have a problem with it, per se. However, I do wonder how they’d be able to protect young users, since the minimum age is 13. However, for older users, if they want to read up on/ watch disturbing news content, then who is to say that they can’t? I’m still bit sceptical that double standards may not play out again. We’ll just have to wait and see.
What do you think about Facebook relaxing it’s graphic content policy or their policy in general? Share your thoughts below.