A weird and possibly old set of guideline slides for third-party moderators of Facebook posts was leaked to German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that shows a bunch of confusing distinctions between what constitutes hate speech and what constitutes permissible generalizations on the basis of age or ethnicity or whathaveyou. But the document certainly creates some "thorny" issues of its own, as New York Magazine points out, like distinguishing between the hate that's implied by the statement "Don't trust boys!" (which is a violation?) and "Don’t trust boys who say they love you" (which is not).
Another thorny one: "Fucking migrants!" is OK as a caption or status update under these guidelines, but "Fucking Muslims!" is not. Then there's "Migrants are scum!”, which is a violation and subject to deletion, but "Asylum seekers out!" is acceptable political speech.
Facebook's Community Operations team, which we learned a bit more about recently, appears to be the source of the document, with that "CO" logo on the bottom left corner, and this was likely something circulated to employees of a third-party contractor hired to handle the gargantuan task of monitoring and making judgment calls on the millions of posts flagged by users every day. Insiders have said that people who do this thankless job typically have about 10 seconds to consider these judgement calls, which isn't a lot considering the fine-line distinctions above.
They also have some bizarre rules around how an added subcategory with a protected category adding something like "neighbors" or "teenagers" to the modifier "Irish", for instance makes a statement inoffensive. For example: "The Irish are drunks," would be grounds for deletion, but "My Irish neighbors are drunks," would not be unless it were the caption of an embarrassing photo. Likewise Irish women (with women being a protected category along with national identity) is a double-protected category, while "Irish teens" is non-protected even though they say elsewhere, contradictorily, that age is a protected subcategory.
And what's more: Members of a religious group are protected, and you are not permitted to deride or mock them, while religion itself is not. So you are free to say "Catholicism is stupid," but not, "Catholics are stupid."
Then there's a section around bullying and bodily functions, and this is kind of funny: Showing friends in photos in the act of urination, defecation, or vomiting, or showing evidence of menstruation, is a violation, at least if they're captioned offensively. However showing people peeing or puking, assuming the images themselves are not deemed offensive, is OK if they're not in a bullying context.
All bets are off, however, if you're a public figure. Observe:
Fergie peeing herself on stage, Harry styles vomiting, or Owen Wilson whipping it out to pee are fair game, since those are tabloid photos that are the stuff of mad sharing.
Most ironic, as NY Mag points out given the founding origins of Facebook, is the rule that users are not permitted to rank individuals based on their looks, or give "a score to a private individual, unsolicited, with a goal to evaluate them on their physical appearance or personality."
Right, so not only does Zuckerberg not believe in "hot or not" games anymore, he's a grownup Iron Man who programs his own Jarvis AI and goes to battle against fake news while still trying not to piss off all Trump voters. All in a day's work.
Previously: NPR Takes Dive Into Facebook's Content Management Process, Says It's 'Set Up To Fail'