Social Media Law

Revised Facebook rules allow 'artistic' nudity and 'authentic identity'; nix revenge porn

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In updated rules released Monday, Facebook clarified for its approximately 1.4 billion users what will, and will not, result in a takedown of their pages under the website’s Community Standards.

The social media site reaffirmed its rule against nudity but made explicit a ban on revenge pornography and is also prohibiting content deemed to promote sexual violence and exploitation. On the other hand, “artistic” nudity is allowed, as well as breast-feeding and mastectomy photos, according to Business Insider and the Bits blog of the New York Times (reg. req.).

Also forbidden are threats of physical or financial harm; promoting eating disorders and suicide; posts intended to degrade or shame the subjects; and encouraging “violent, criminal or hateful behavior.”

In an exception to the hate-speech ban, users can use hate-speech examples to raise awareness, but must clearly indicate their intent not to support the objectionable material, reports IDG News Service.

Now allowed are pages under the “authentic identity” of the account holder. Previously, Facebook had said individuals must use their legal name, but leeway has now been given to allow transgendered individuals, among others, to use the name under which they are known in their communities.

In addition to varying cultural expectations by Facebook’s worldwide users, the company must contend with differing legal requirements:

“There are also times when we may have to remove or restrict access to content because it violates a law in a particular country, even though it doesn’t violate our Community Standards. We report the number of government requests to restrict content for contravening local law in our Global Government Requests Report, which we are also releasing today,” explains the company in a Facebook blog post on Sunday. “We challenge requests that appear to be unreasonable or overbroad. And if a country requests that we remove content because it is illegal in that country, we will not necessarily remove it from Facebook entirely, but may restrict access to it in the country where it is illegal.”

Chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a Sunday blog post that underlying standards haven’t changed, but Facebook wanted to provide more clarity to users, reports Reuters.

“People rightfully want to know what content we will take down, what controversial content we’ll leave up, and why,” he said.

The BBC News, Computerworld, CNet, CNN Money, TIME and the Washington Post (reg. req.) also have stories.

Related coverage: “Facebook will allow users to name ‘legacy contact’ in case of death”

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