Belfast Telegraph

Why Facebook is finally baring all over social media standards

From exposed buttocks to hate crime and international terrorism, the internet giant has sought to clarify what is, and isn't, acceptable user content, reports Katie Wright

Is nudity ever allowed on Facebook? It's a question that has got plenty of photo uploaders in trouble. In response, Monika Bickert, head of global policy management, and Chris Sonderby, deputy general counsel, wrote on the site's official blog, attempting to provide examples and "more detail on what is and is not allowed" and unveiled updated community standards.

The guidelines cover everything from bullying and threatening behaviour to trading illegal goods, but the latest changes mainly concern nudity, hate speech and terrorist activity. Nudity has been a contentious area on social media recently.

The ongoing Free the Nipple campaign was launched in response to the fact that only male nipples are allowed on Instagram and in the new rules Facebook admits "our policies can sometimes be more blunt than we would like".

As such, genitals and "fully exposed buttocks" aren't allowed, and campaigners won't be pleased to find that Facebook will still "restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple".

However, they will "always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring".

Plus pictures of paintings, sculptures and other arty nudes are allowed, so that trip to the Louvre doesn't have to go entirely unFacebooked.

Regarding hate speech - attacking people based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, gender, or disability - Facebook says this is a particularly tricky area to police and that they regularly consult with governments, academics and experts on the topic.

The standards make it clear that targeting individuals is never allowed, yet it's okay to share a post that contains hate speech, but only if your purpose is "raising awareness or educating others about that hate speech" and you make that intent clear. Recently, Twitter's founders were threatened by supporters of terrorist group Isis for blocking accounts that promote terrorist activities; now Facebook has beefed up its rules on 'Dangerous Organisations' which includes terrorist activities or organised crime.

"It's a challenge to maintain one set of standards that meets the needs of a diverse global community," Bickert and Sonderby admit - and there's no doubt this won't be the last community standards set they'll have to write.

It's easy to imagine the hate and crime guidelines getting ever more stringent, while nudity rules could become more lax.

Belfast Telegraph