Facebook Files Leaked Online Show Mammoth Policing Task

Facebook Files Leaked Online Show Mammoth Policing Task.

Facebook’s confidential moderation manual was recently leaked online. The Guardian is opting to release select portions of the guidelines rather than the whole document at once. What has been released so far are the guidelines for revenge porn, sexuality, art and nudity, sexually explicit language, and rape. Most striking about Facebook is the way that they have become arbiter for what media is acceptable and unacceptable in a way that cuts across cultures and nationalities. Because of the internet’s transnational nature and its relative newness as a communications medium, there is no equivalent to the Federal Communications Commission, the American governmental organization that serves as censor and arbiter of taste for American television and radio. You can’t say the same about Facebook. It is the publisher and the moderator; jury and executioner. It can react to consumer pressure, but it has no mandate to make its strange moderation rules public. It doesn’t want to dole out justice so much as it wants to keep things tidy enough to keep the money flowing from advertisers — who, in the end, are its real customers, while the users are just the product. Perhaps that is why it has the strange double-standard in how it polices gender: it is happy to provide non-binary gender options for its members, most of whom will never see nor notice when they are filling in the gender box; yet, for the larger Facebook audience, it has no interest in rocking the boat when it comes to questioning ingrained patriarchal ideas or policing everyday misogyny. The hubbub around Facebook’s twisted and ambiguous moderation practices feeds into the larger recent public discussions over whether social media is more akin to a public service and should perhaps be broken up, nationalised, or converted to user-owned systems. Credit: Salon Commentary 23 May 2017.

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