Graphic and violent videos have long been a controversial part of Facebook News Feeds. Even though the site takes down some explicit content, it often allow these posts to remain up either on free speech grounds or because they don’t violate Facebook’s often-confusing Community Standards. However, the site took a big step toward protecting users from graphic content this week by adding warnings before users view it.
The message will say something to the effect of “Are you sure you want to see this?” The video won’t play unless a user clicks “yes,” and the videos won’t be visible at all to Facebook users who identify themselves as being under 18 years old.
Facebook has experimented with security measures like this before, briefly placing warnings over graphic beheading videos in 2013 before ultimately doing away with them. Though this new policy was ostensibly created to prevent children from being exposed to graphic posts, Forbes points out that there is also a strong incentive for the site to keep advertisers happy. Videos are becoming an increasingly large part of Facebook’s content, and major corporations obviously don’t want their promoted posts or advertisements showing up side by side with disgusting or violent footage.
Facebook has faced intense pressure to regulate violent content on its pages, or at least make its censorship decisions more consistent. This new warning might not accomplish either, but it will at least put the decision in the hands of users whether or not they want to see something disturbing.