Facebook Community Standards – Censorship?

 

Background

I have a Facebook account which is a public account, but only my friends, family, Facebook, and advertisers can post on my timeline. I keep my politics separate from my main Facebook account. I do have a second Facebook account for my blog, The Armchair Observer.com but it is walled off from the account for family and friends. I found this perfectly acceptable because politics is such a hot button issue right now and I don’t want to have to block family and friends or be blocked by them. My blogs are not automatically published to my timeline so family and friends do not have to read or even see them. It’s a bit sad when you can’t share what you do with family but it works and I am OK with it.

Facebook likes to make money from its business sites (which is how they categorize a blog site). They will push my blog posts out to a target audience for a fee to help me “sell” more. Sometimes I use this feature to try to find more readers. I find that most people only look at the title and the pictures and then either like a post or not. I have slowly increased my number of followers, very slowly. For the most part, the most active responders are “pod” people, right wingers who like to label my posts as “fake news” and then try to sway me with their brilliant Fox-generated arguments. I engage for a while to try to convince them to see another point of view but it is too frustrating, and will continue indefinitely because they always need to have the last word. The Facebook “sales” model doesn’t work as well when you are selling words (ideas, opinions). I feel that I base my opinions on facts, but of course right wingers have their own facts. I don’t feel quite right selling my opinions and I don’t have enough readers to make it profitable so I haven’t tried to monetize my blog.

Facebook has been under pressure from the Trump administration to track down “fake news”, trolling behaviors such as hate speech, and phony posts representing foreign meddling in American politics. Due to government pressure Facebook has been posting new rules. For example, the folks at Facebook ask lots of questions on my timeline about my privacy settings. I usually post inane things on my timeline such as images I think family members will enjoy, mostly of nature, florals, and gardens, birds and music/dance videos. I comment on the posts of the grandchildren and the great grandchildren and enjoy keeping in touch with distant family members. Once in a while, I post a glimpse of my personal life, but rarely.

Why I am Worried About Facebook Community Standards

Recently Facebook posted (on my timeline) their new Community Standards and these standards leave lots of room for subjective judgements made, I assume, by algorithms and/or people at some undisclosed location. Hopefully the policies will be applied to the most egregious offenders, but only future practice will reveal whether this will be a useful information sorting tool or arbitrary censorship. Offenders can be suspended from using Facebook, which I suppose is not the end of the world. Facebook sent me one of those memories they like to post on your timeline from something I posted a year ago. My niece sent out a plug for her travel website and I reposted it. So, when the memory (I imagine generated by Facebook) appeared I shared it again, since her website is still up and running.Facebook sent me a return message asking if my post was spam. Are they using a form of entrapment? IDK

Although I am mystified by my inability to grasp the intricacies of the privacy policy that Facebook keeps posting on my timeline, I more leery of their Community Standards. A lot can go awry when algorithms are used to attempt to make judgement calls by parsing complex content using code and mathematical methodologies. Even if there is an employee panel somewhere that is also involved in these judgements Facebook is likely to face personal pushback and, perhaps, legal issues. Depending on the stringency with which the standards are applied, free expression by sincere Facebook users may be censored along with posts by abusers.

You can find the Facebook Community Standards here: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards

The most problematic section of the standards says:

“Our mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. Every day, people come to Facebook to share their stories, see the world through the eyes of others and connect with friends and causes. The conversations that happen on Facebook reflect the diversity of a community of more than two billion people.

We want people to feel safe when using Facebook. For that reason, we’ve developed a set of Community Standards, outlined below. These policies will help you understand what type of sharing is allowed on Facebook, and what type of content may be reported to us and removed. Sometimes we will allow content if newsworthy, significant or important to the public interest – even if it might otherwise violate our standards. Because of the diversity of our global community, please keep in mind that something that may be disagreeable or disturbing to you may not violate our Community Standards.

We remove content, disable accounts, and work with law enforcement when we believe there is a genuine risk of physical harm or direct threats to public safety. Learn more about how Facebook handles abusive content.

 

  • Overview
  • Direct Threats
  • Self-Injury
  • Dangerous Organizations
  • Bullying and Harassment
  • Attacks on Public Figures
  • Criminal Activity
  • Sexual Violence and Exploitation
  • Regulated Goods”

There is more to the Standards and you can follow the link above to see the entire document including instructions for reporting material that you think breaks the rules. I guess that most of this does not apply to me except the “attacks one public figures” standard. It is unclear what is meant by an attack on a public figure. Does this include writing that is critical of the decisions, behaviors, or actions of a public figure. If I push out a blog post and a right winger objects can they file a report about my post? How close to the censorship line is Facebook likely to walk? Could this possibly squelch legitimate free speech? I do not believe that Facebook would have to make such a set of standards if our politics were not so fraught. I am interested to see how this plays out. Will I feel the sting if I am suspended by Facebook? Will I try to fight it? Will I just let it go? I do have some sympathy for Mark Zuckerberg, caught between a rock and hard place.And I would miss Messenger the most because it allows a far flung family to stay in close touch with each other, especially in times of family events or family crises.

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “Facebook Community Standards – Censorship?”

  1. Facebook Community stands noted that I recently posted something that violates Facebook policies. Please kindly check the posted, that is not violates. The posted is Joking videoclip.

    Like

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