Facebook loves to tout the strength of its Community Standards when it comes to protecting users. However, according to leaked internal content moderation guidelines obtained by The Guardian, public figures are often permitted to be targets of abuse — even including calls for their death.
According to Facebook’s rules, public figures cannot be “purposefully exposed” to this kind of abuse. However, that doesn’t exactly stop the abuse from happening. Thankfully private users are more protected than this. But experts say that by allowing public figures to be the target of this speech, Facebook is allowing a dangerous precedent for intolerance.
“Highly visible abuse of public figures and celebrities acts as a warning — a proverbial head on a pike — to others,” said Imran Ahmed, founder of the Center for Countering Digital Hate. “It is used by identity-based hate actors who target women and minorities to dissuade participation by the very groups that campaigners for tolerance and inclusion have worked so hard to bring into public life. Just because someone isn’t tagged doesn’t mean that the message isn’t heard loud and clear.”
Facebook’s rules have often been confusing. However, this strange double-standard about death threats may take the cake as the most mystifying of them all.
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