Facebook tightens posting guidelines on nudity

Facebook has changed its guidelines on what its users can post. Picture: Getty
Facebook has changed its guidelines on what its users can post. Picture: Getty
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YOU can advertise guns and alcohol but if your quest for ‘likes’ involves posting pictures of bare buttocks, prepare to receive the bum’s rush from world’s largest social network.

In a revision of its policies which seeks to curb offensive material while safeguarding freedom of expression, Facebook have revealed exactly what sort of comments and images its 1.3 billion users can and can’t upload.

While some people have complained that graphic political protests such as Tibetan monks setting themselves on fire are censored by Facebook, others have expressed concern that videos of beheadings and other distressing events have been allowed to circulate.

The site, which has faced criticism for inconsistency over what user-generated material is deemed acceptable, said it hoped the revised guidelines will “provide more clarity” about the firm’s own rules and the legal restrictions of various countries around the world.

The revamped “community standards” policy covers a range of contentious topics, including violence, nudity and hate speech.

In a blog post announcing the changes Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of global policy management, explained: “Billions of pieces of content are shared on Facebook every day. We hope these updates help provide more clarity about the standards we have, whether they are our own community standards or those imposed by different laws around the world.”

The changes include clarification that some nudity is allowed for artistic purposes, but images of genitals or buttocks will be taken down.

It remains to be seen how it will work in practice, with questions over whether images of Madonna’s revealing Grammy’s dress would be considered art, or if campaigns from Free the Nipple - a group which promotes women’s right to go topless in public - will show up in newsfeeds.

The social giant said its policies surrounding nudity can “sometimes be more blunt than we would like”, highlighting that while images may be for a campaign or artistic purpose, some Facebook users in different parts of the world may be be sensitive to it.

As a result, its new guidelines state that it will “remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks.”

It adds: “We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures.”

Elsewhere, Facebook confirmed that provided they were not breaking laws in their own country, users could advertise for sale items like firearms, alcohol, tobacco or sex toys.

The firm said it will remove content that promotes or encourages suicide and self-harm and ensure that any organisations that engage in terrorist activity, organised crime, or promote hate against others are not given a platform for their views.

The site added that it encourages people to “challenge ideas, institutions and practices because such challenges can promote debate and greater understanding”. Facebook also said that it allows “humour, satire or social commentary” if the user is posting under their real identity.

Stephen Balkam, chief executive of the Family Online Safety Institute, which sits on Facebook’s safety advisory board, said: “I think it’s great that Facebook has revamped its community standards page to make it both more readable and accessible. I wish more social media sites and apps would follow suit.”

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