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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Facebook tells the world how it enforces community guidelines, opens appeal option

Facebook has just revealed the criteria, called Community Guidelines, for reviewing accounts that have been blocked, while also introducing a second appeals option.

Written by Nandagopal Rajan | New Delhi |
Updated: April 25, 2018 1:16:09 am
Facebook Community Guidelines, blocked Facebook accounts, EU General Data Protection Regulation, Facebook block requests, Facebook policy feedback, Community Operations team, civil society organisations Facebook has just publicised how it’s community guidelines are enforced by reviewers across the world. (File Photo)

Users across the world will no longer be blinded on why a certain post has been removed or blocked on Facebook. The social network has just publicised how it’s community guidelines are enforced by reviewers across the world. Along with this, those whose posts are removed will now have a second appeal option.

Monika Bickert, VP of Global Product Management at Facebook, said the standards were a ‘living document’ and not a final version as they constantly evolve based on feedback from stakeholders. “At Facebook, we have a meeting every two weeks of the content standards forum with our teams from around the world to discuss new developments,” she said, adding that usually feedback here is integrated into the policy in another couple of weeks.

“Today we are also expanding your appeals. Users can now ask Facebook to revisit a decision. We will make mistakes and it is important to take a second look if we have removed a post or a photo,” she said, adding that these appeals will not be sent to another person for review.

Bickert said with the document that has been opened up to the public today, where they will be able to see the rationale behind each policy to give the context for the granular details. Before the document was put out, Facebook reached out to more than a hundred academics and civil society organisations, to ensure that the language was good enough for the public. Facebook will also hold a series of summits where the general public will be able to give feedback on these policies. One of these will be held in India in a couple of months from now.

Asked if the publicisation of the policy will bring down the reporting of posts or appeals, Bickert said that was a possibility, though the objective was for the people to have clarity. “Earlier, they wouldn’t know exactly why a post was taken down. Now they will be able to.” She clarified that this announcement has nothing to do with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to come into effect in Europe next month.

Read | Complying with GDPR, WhatsApp will let users around world download data they share with app

Facebook Community Guidelines, blocked Facebook accounts, EU General Data Protection Regulation, Facebook block requests, Facebook policy feedback, Community Operations team, civil society organisations Before the document was put out, Facebook reached out to more than a hundred academics and civil society organisations, to ensure that the language was good enough for the public. (File Photo)

Giving a broad sense of how community standards work, Bickert said Facebook will not allow anyone to be attacked on the basis of their religion or country, but will allow criticism on the same lines. “Yes, this will be upsetting for some, and that is why they will have the ability to block users.” Interestingly, she clarified that driving hundreds of people to report a certain post will not ensure it will get blocked. The first time it is reported, it will be reviewed, and it will be reviewed again the second time. If these are clear the post will carry a note that it has already been reviewed.

Facebook reviewers generally respond within 24 hours after a report has been flagged. The first level of filtering is done using technology after which a post goes for a human review. The Community Operations team, which reviews the reports, works 24/7 in over 40 languages. At the moment there are over 7,500 content reviewers, “more than 40 per cent the number at this time last year”.

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