Facebook plans to reduce censorship, show more offensive but newsworthy content

Facebook will soon display more graphic content including violence and nudity that would normally violate its community standards as long as they’re newsworthy or important enough

Facebook’s VP of global policy writes “Our intent is to allow more images and stories without posing safety risks or showing graphic images to minors and others who do not want to see them.”

The move comes after criticism of Facebook’s temporary censorship of the famous “Napalm Girl” nude photo of a child from the Vietnam War, which was shared by a Norwegian journalist and later by the newspaper he works for. Eventually the company retreated and restored shares of the photo after heavy media and public backlash.

Just last night, Facebook censored a Swedish breast cancer awareness video, and has since apologized and restored it. Clearly it needs a better-defined process for choosing what to censor, which apparently is what’s coming.”



Recently Facebook took feedback from its community about what they did and didn’t want to see. It’s decision is that “In the weeks ahead, we’re going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest — even if they might otherwise violate our standards”.

One possible way to do this would be to age-gate content that might be offensive to minors. As for adults, TechCrunch has suggested Facebook employ interstitial warnings about graphic content that users would have to click through to watch. To aid this, we’ve suggested that Facebook ad a content flagging option that something is “graphic but newsworthy”, which would allow users to notify the company about content that needs a warning but shouldn’t be removed.

Facebook has repeatedly stated that it’s not a media company, meaning it doesn’t have the same editorial responsibilities to avoid censorship even if it offends viewers. Facebook insists it operates as a technology platform that gives users what they want.

Last month, Facebook’s VP of News Feed said on stage at TechCrunch Disrupt that “We think of ourselves as a technology company. We know we play a meaningful role in media,” yet “our responsibility is to make sure we’re a platform for all ideas. We’re not in the business of deciding which ideas people should read about.”

But by relaxing its community standards today, it is making a judgement call about what’s newsworthy and people should read about, even if it might offend them or other users.

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