Facebook’s content removal rules often lead to confusion among the platform’s users, many of whom are unsure how or why their posts have been taken down. The social media giant recently introduced a new policy that will surely add to the uncertainty. This new section in the site’s Community Standards places strict limits on discussing sex and sexual orientation.
The new policy, broadly grouped under “Sexual Solicitation,” bans sex chats and conversations, nude photos, engaging in “implicit solicitation,” and even “vague suggestive statements.” Obviously the language behind this rule isn’t clear, and many users expressed concern that their free speech — including discussions about sexual orientation — will be censored. Facebook says that won’t happen, and that the rule was designed to actually clarify its existing sexual policies.
“This change was prompted, in large part, by conversations with our content reviewers, who told us that the sexual exploitation policy did not adequately distinguish between exploitation (e.g. ‘My ex was a slut. Look at the photos she sent me.’) and solicitation (e.g. ‘Looking for swingers. Friday at 8 PM’),” a Facebook spokesperson told The Verge.
While this new policy might be well-intentioned, it’s a solid bet that it’ll come back to bite the company sooner rather than later. It’s only a matter of time until Facebook accidentally blocks the wrong thing — and sets off yet another firestorm of controversy.