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Facebook to let users appeal censored content

Facebook to let users appeal censored content
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Facebook on Tuesday made its community standards public and announced it will let users appeal when their posts are taken down.

The community standards, the rules by which it bans users and certain types of content, were previously only available to Facebook employees.

Facebook’s vice president of global policy management, Monika Bickert, explained in a post that the company decided to make the standards public for two reasons.

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“First, the guidelines will help people understand where we draw the line on nuanced issues. Second, providing these details makes it easier for everyone, including experts in different fields, to give us feedback so that we can improve the guidelines — and the decisions we make — over time,” she wrote.

Bickert noted that Facebook’s imperfect enforcement policy was part of the impetus for allowing users to appeal banned content.

“Our policies are only as good as the strength and accuracy of our enforcement — and our enforcement isn’t perfect,”  she said. “We know we need to do more. As a first step, we are launching appeals for posts that were removed for nudity / sexual activity, hate speech or graphic violence.”

Users will usually be notified of the status of their appeal within 24 hours the company said. Bickert expects the appeals process to broadened to other types of violations in the future.

“We believe giving people a voice in the process is another essential component of building a fair system,” she wrote.

The newly available rules shed light on Facebook’s broader approach to managing content, but they don’t give firmer details on its decisionmaking processes. ProPublica obtained documents last year regarding Facebook’s community standards that show its policies are far deeper and nuanced than what the social media platform shared on Tuesday.

The announcements come after controversy over how certain types of content are treated on the system. Activists in Myanmar, for example, have accused Facebook of censoring reports of ethnic cleansing in the country.

In 2016, Facebook spurred global controversy after it censored an iconic photo from the Vietnam War, prompting questions about its enforcement policies.