The Truth About Community Standards on Facebook

Category: Facebook

Two waves of outrage have rippled across Facebook in recent days. They serve to highlight the true intentions that Mark Zuckerberg and company have for their hapless members. If you understand what they’re up to, you will be able to meet it with equanimity and immunity. Read on..

The Hunters and The Hunted

The first outrage was the revelation that Facebook deliberately manipulated the emotions of several hundred thousand members in a social science experiment. By tweaking the percentages of negative and positive news stories in members’ news feeds, Facebook “discovered” that it could make people post more negative or positive posts.

For some reason, the world reacted as if no one had ever manipulated people’s emotions before and it was the Evilest Thing Ever! News flash: everyone manipulates your emotions: your spouse, your kids, your parents, your boss, and certainly all those nice advertisers who bring you free TV, search results, and Facebook!

Happy Cows on Facebook

Much is being made about Facebook’s ostensible “violation” of ethical rules “imposed by the government” on research involving human subjects. Such rules apply only to projects conducted or “supported” by the U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services. I cannot find any indication that Facebook had federal funding for its internal marketing research.

The second scandal involves Ms. Kendall Jones, a 19 year-old Texas cheerleader whose Facebook page documented her recent African safari. Her proud, smiling face over dead lions and other big game sent animal-rights activists to the apogee of apoplexy. Miss Jones received death threats by phone, and similar threats were posted by anonymous cowards on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

A congressional candidate even went so far as to offer $100,000 to anyone who could provide him with a nude photograph of the Texas cheerleader, and tweeted "She deserves to be a target." Whatever you may think of hunting for sport, I suspect you’ll agree that the zealots crossed a line.

What Are the Standards?

A “Kill Kendall Jones” community page was created on Facebook. Hundreds of peace-and-love types liked it. Thousands of sane people, including me, did not and complained to Facebook about it, demanding its removal. Here is the response I received:

Kendall Jones Facebook Report

“We reviewed the Page you reported for containing credible threat of violence and found it doesn't violate our Community Standards.” I suppose that “we” refers to some low-level, anonymous moderator who probably wears a Greenpeace T-shirt. Either he or she sympathizes with the incitement of murder, or was informing me that a "credible threat of violence" doesn't violate Facebook's Community Standards.

Facebook Einstein quote The same sociopath, or some other(s) with power over what we post, deleted Kendall Jones’ page. This is what happens when you have too many worker termites and not enough adult supervision. Even better, my Facebook post decrying the “Kill Kendall Jones” page was deleted without my consent or notification. Then the “Kill Kendall Jones” page vanished, just like her safari page that started the ruckus. And Poof!... all trace of controversy disappeared.

What we can conclude about Facebook’s “community standards” from these two incidents is simple and obvious. The only standard to which Facebook adheres is: “Keep them fat, dumb, and happy.”

Cows produce more milk when they’re quiet and tranquil. Facebook members produce more advertising money when they’re unperturbed. So controversy will not be tolerated on Facebook; it’s bad for business. On the other hand, insipid “inspirational” JPGs featuring cute babies, Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi will continue to foul your news feed with their cloying idiocy forever.

Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "The Truth About Community Standards on Facebook"

(See all 41 comments for this article.)

Posted by:

Harish Dobhal
14 Jul 2014

Well, I respect your feelings regarding the death threats by cowards to that girl. Very fine. But, what made you write this : "...Albert Einstein and Mahatma Gandhi will continue to foul your news feed with their cloying idiocy..."

These two people do deserve respect (of their thoughts) and calling them idiots is not what I would appreciate.

EDITOR'S NOTE: I wasn't calling Einstein or Gandhi idiots. I was referring to the usually insipid "inspirational quotables" genre shared on social media, often alongsided photos of people who never said those things.

Posted by:

ed martin
14 Jul 2014

Interesting analysis - this reminds me of the BBC here in the UK.

Is there scope for 'moderator analysis'?

It might be quite entertaining - just what is it that makes someone so sure that they know what's 'balanced' (a bbc responsibility) or 'fair'?

Better perhaps to err on the liberal side - as long as the vitriol throwers are identified.

Posted by:

William Neal
14 Jul 2014

This is nothing new. They also had a Cliven Bundy Must Die, Obama Must Die, Harry Reid Must Die, and at that time the same uproar. It was then explained that it was a scientific fact that everyone must die.

Posted by:

Cindy Bidwell Glaze
14 Jul 2014

They have refused to consider other movements to pull down pages saying "kill whoever" even those that go about posting home addresses of those the page creator despises. Community Standards seem to be randomly enforced. A person can be chastised for saying something without being allowed a chance to appeal the decision, yet pages threatening harm are allowed free rein until they become viral or make the news.

Posted by:

Lloyd Collins
15 Jul 2014

I noticed the same attitude at other sites, as long as we are happy, so is everyone. Or so they think. Remove, and be happy.

I will never join Facebook. Google chasing me for advertising dollars is more than my nerves can handle.

Posted by:

15 Jul 2014

Personally, I hope Facebook crashes and burns and the sooner, the better.
They should also be investigated and sued if warranted, but it wouldn't surprise me the gov't was behind the whole thing in the first place. They are just doing a better job of hiding.

Posted by:

Patrick giyan
15 Jul 2014

I suppose you think I am a racist also Dan Crawford because I believe President Obama is incompetent and and leftist President. People like you find it real easy to use the race card when you can't defend lousy president.

Posted by:

marc de P
15 Jul 2014

Your analysis is dead-on. All the verbiage about "community standards" (they don't even have the guts to say "Facebook standards") is about keeping the herd quiet.

Posted by:

Nancy Bell
15 Jul 2014

Thanks,Bob. I just posted this to my Facebook page.

Posted by:

15 Jul 2014

Perhaps it is just old age, but I always thot that FB was on the complex side. I am always getting emails saying that I've got notifications, messages, pokes, jokes, and hoax. And when I click on the link, there's this big gamish (thank you, Spell Czech. Practicing for Halloween?) of stuff that appears to be unrelated to the content of the email that I received. Are the people who are outraged really the ones that are manipulated 23.5/7?

Posted by:

15 Jul 2014

I appreciate the info, and why, even though I do have an account, I do not post habitually. I also appreciate others comments and insight that make your articles that much more fun, 146% smarter than the rest, and why we need good folks like you. Thanks!

Posted by:

Bob Deloyd
15 Jul 2014

I use FaceBook and I find some of the comments written here on Ask Bob Rankin about Facebook users kinda like what I would expect from some of the idiots that filter their way into my feeds on Facebook which I then unclick notifications on.
I have connected with many of my childhood friends and old Army buddies from the late 60's.
I've never heard of Ms. Kendall Jones until I read it here.
It is all about what you use Facebook for and if you are searching for something to cry, scream, hate and rant over you will find it there; if that's what interests you... it not what interest me.

Posted by:

15 Jul 2014

I agree that Facebook is(was) a great place to find old friends from yesteryear. But it is also welcomes some of the most innane, repetitive posts from those that mistakenly believe anyone is interested.

Management or support even, is almost non-existent; there are 'articles', of course but the one area that concerns you is either non-existant or obsolete due to one of those "Work Fast, Break Something" code festivals Face book is so famous for.

Too many Programmers; not enough Customer support or management!
And as you discovered Bob, when Support or Management IS discovered, they present opposing opinions concerning the same topic or policy!

A "Bob Rankin" Profile? Yes there WAS one but not at that precise name; it was "AskBobRankin" wasn't it? I am unable to check it anymore you see... I deactivated a year ago and have little desire to rejoin the idiotic Libtard vs.
Right WingNut attacks with some Faceless Facebook Programmer manipulating Posts from the sidelines.

Does that make me 146% More Intelligent? ...It don't hErt!

Posted by:

David Guillaume
15 Jul 2014

Social networking - You reap what you plant so what do you expect in return applause?
David Guillaume

Posted by:

15 Jul 2014

I'm running into a lot of people who say, "Yeah, I have a Facebook page but I rarely look at it." Surprisingly, and unfortunately for Facebook, they're mostly young people. This is how MySpace died.

Posted by:

15 Jul 2014

I have enjoyed your articles for several years. You are current on lots of new technology. Is there any chance you could stick to that? If I want to read controversial opinions I can go to the news sites.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Valerie, the article wasn't about the controversies. It was about how Facebook handles situations like this, and "shapes" your social media experiences.

Posted by:

15 Jul 2014

dear bob,i so agree with u...we need more of u to stand up to the trash that is out there...I don't get on facebook very often just to connect to my family and a few friends...but I will stand with u on this...take care...

Posted by:

15 Jul 2014

” I suppose that “we” refers to some low-level, anonymous moderator who probably wears a Greenpeace T-shirt."

No, it goes higher in the organization than that. Given the known political affiliations of Zuckerberg and the other high mucky-mucks at FB, Instagram (which, IIRC, is now part of FB) & Twitter, I am utterly unsurprised that these vile attacks don't violate their community standards. Just another reason I have never had anything to do with any of those "services" and won't any time soon.

Posted by:

16 Jul 2014

With limited time to read all that pulls on me these days, I always try to read and appreciate your posts on so many issues. I am more and more staying off Facebook, b/c of the time it takes (I would rather be doing other things, like working in the yard or actually being with friends)and because of issues like this. So many people are so angry these days and looking for something to pounce on... sigh. Thank you so much for posting this, as well as all the more tech related posts.

Posted by:

19 Jul 2014

Facebook? It can only hurt you if you go there. So stay away and no one gets hurt! Time to get on with life and go live it! Thanks for everything Bob! Keep up the great work

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Article information: AskBobRankin -- The Truth About Community Standards on Facebook (Posted: 14 Jul 2014)
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