Decision Maker Response

Facebook’s response

Jun 8, 2015 — Hello,

We saw that you had signed the petition asking Facebook to ‘stop political blocking’ and wanted to reach out to you directly to explain how we operate. We hope this will bring more clarity to this issue. We do first want to reiterate that we strongly support people being able to engage in political debate on Facebook, and we recognize the importance of these debates to people, especially in times of conflict.

We have a single set of Community Standards around the world that help keep Facebook safe for everyone. These standards prohibit content that contains nudity, hate speech, specific threats of violence or bullying content. (For more details visit www.facebook.com/communitystandards).

When content is reported to us we investigate to see if it breaks our standards and if it does, we take it down. It doesn’t matter if something is reported once or 100 times, we only remove content that goes against these standards. We have learnt over the years that people can run campaigns to create many reports about content they don’t like and have designed our systems to prevent this leading to the removal of acceptable content.

All of our reports are handled in global centres where multilingual, highly trained teams deal with requests from all over the world in an impartial way. Within these teams we have people who speak both Russian and Ukrainian who can help give specific language context. And we have quality control systems in place to ensure that reports are decided on correctly according to the common standards.

Of course, with more than 1.4 billion people around the world using Facebook there will be the rare occasion where our teams don’t get it right. When this happens and we are alerted to it then we will quickly work to restore or remove content as appropriate.

When we remove a piece of content, we notify the person who posted it with an explanation of why it broke our rules, so they know not to post such content again. If people repeatedly post content that breaks our standards then we may block them from posting content for a number of days. As a last resort, if people seem to be ignoring the standards altogether, we sometimes have to suspend their accounts.

When people raise questions about our decisions we will look at them again. We have reviewed the decisions made on the accounts in the petition and others that were brought to our attention. We have found that the majority of actions were correctly taken because of content that breached our standards. Some accounts repeatedly posted violating content, leading to them being temporarily blocked from posting new content.

We also found a small number of accounts where we had incorrectly removed content. In each case, this was due to language that appeared to be hate speech but was being used in an ironic way. In these cases, we have restored the content and would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused. We hope people will recognize that it can be hard sometimes to make decisions when we see negative terms being used about national groups – we usually get this right but we will make mistakes from time to time.

We will continue to review the decisions we have made to ensure that they are as accurate as possible. We would also encourage people to read our Community Standards to minimize the risk of there being problems with content they have posted.

This is a big challenge, and one that we are working on everyday to keep improving the experience people have using our service. We’d like to thank you for taking the time to share your feedback with us.

For more information please visit:
https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards

Yours sincerely

Thomas Myrup Kristensen
Director of Policy, Facebook, Nordics, Eastern Europe and Russia.