The criteria upon which Facebook decided whether or not a reported photo should be removed from the site have apparently been leaked. A disgruntled former employee of a firm outsourced by Facebook to screen illicit content got in touch with Gawker.com to share with them the guidelines from which moderators would operate.
I’m sure most of you would agree that the majority of the stipulations are sensible, and that there is no place on Facebook for photos depicting torture, animal cruelty, scenes of a graphic sexual nature etc. However, things get a little silly when “ANY photoshopped images of people, whether negative, positive or neutral” should be deleted if reported.
It’s become a running joke among a some friends of mine that we continually photoshop the same friend’s face into amusing pictures or historical images. The person who features in these photos finds the whole thing hilarious, and no harm is done. Yet if anyone were to report the image below, it would be deleted under Facebook’s censorship policy:
As you can see, our friend looks very pleased to be hanging out with 50 Cent and Dr. Dre, so why should Facebook want to delete this photo? There are other examples of where the line may have been drawn a little too conservatively, such as mothers’ groups not being allowed to show images of breastfeeding but I’ve used the photoshop rule as a case study as it’s something that would personally irk me as a Facebook user.
If these sorts of playful images are to be banned, then people might well be looking for somewhere else to share photos with friends. To reiterate, I firmly support any actions taken to delete images of executions, death, cruelty, bestiality and the like. However it appears that whoever drew up this censorship manifesto is trying to crack a nut with a sledgehammer. People want an easy way to share photos with family and friends, but if the world’s largest social network is going to forbid certain types of harmless fun, then a private sharing network may be another option.