Under New Facebook Policy, Newsworthy Trumps Nudity

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By Christopher Coble, Esq. on October 25, 2016 1:01 PM

Most of us have never violated Facebook's Community Standards. Then again, most of us are only posting photos of our children, vacation, or food. But as more businesses, charities, and media companies join the ranks of individual Facebook users, the limits of the site's policy on explicit posts are bound to be stretched. (And the most vitriolic presidential campaign in recent memory doesn't help matters.)

But rather than tightening its parameters on illegal or offensive content, Facebook announced last week it is relaxing its standards on explicit posts, so long as the post has some news or public interest value.

Which Community?

Facebook admitted that balancing norms and standards for a global community isn't easy. "Whether an image is newsworthy or historically significant is highly subjective," the company said in its statement. "Images of nudity or violence that are acceptable in one part of the world may be offensive -- or even illegal -- in another." Still, Facebook recognizes that the value of newsworthy items may outweigh an interest in not being offended:

In the weeks ahead, we're going to begin allowing more items that people find newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest -- even if they might otherwise violate our standards. We will work with our community and partners to explore exactly how to do this, both through new tools and approaches to enforcement. Our intent is to allow more images and stories without posing safety risks or showing graphic images to minors and others who do not want to see them.

Which Posts?

Facebook didn't cite any particular posts that sparked the change in course, but the Atlantic noted two recent cases of content being pulled: one was a Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph of victims of a napalm attack during the Vietnam War, the other a breast cancer awareness campaign ad.

If you're wondering whether a particular post is permitted under the new rules, you can check out Facebook's Community Standards page. In the meantime, you still might want to stick to photos that prove to friends and family how great your life is, and be prepared to come across some potentially offensive content.

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