Facebook is moving forward with an updated policy when it comes to figuring out what to display users in their News Feed or what’s shared in general. After receiving feedback from users and partners over “recent weeks”, the social networking company will no longer put as great of emphasis on censorship than it had previously. Instead, it will show images and stories that are deemed “newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest — even if they might otherwise violate [Facebook’s] standards.”
This issue recently came to light following Facebook’s censorship of the iconic “Napalm Girl” image in September and a subsequent mea culpa where the company said it recognized “the history and global importance of this image in documenting a particular moment in time.” In the past few months, it had definitely been a lightning rod of criticism over how it polices what’s on its site, which is now used by more than 1 billion people daily.
Other cases that come to mind include allegations that have been levied against the social network over a perceived bias against conservative ideas, which has also led Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg meeting with conservative activists to explain that his company does no such thing. Also, we mustn’t forget that people are also in arms over Facebook’s censorship against women’s nipples. Just this week, it blocked a cancer awareness video because it featured cartoon breasts.
Under this proposed policy change, the company could shift from being prudish and display appropriate content based on its news value.
Of course this may also leads to a slippery slope, but it seems that Facebook is airing more on the side of free speech instead of bowing down to everyone in the world, all with differing opinions.
It’s certainly not an easy task to make sure that the appropriate images are seen since Facebook is used globally and each region, country, state, city, and person has their own view about what should be seen, something that’s dictated by a variety of factors. Facebook acknowledged this quagmire, saying “respecting local norms and upholding global practices often come into conflict. And people often disagree about what standards should be in place to ensure a community that is both safe and open to expression.”
That being said, Facebook said it will be working with its community and partners to figure out how to find the right balance and this will include new tools and approaches around enforcing this policy. “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.”