Social media giant, Facebook, has claimed that grossly offensive and threatening posts do not breach their own “community standards”. The Alliance reported a number of comments to Facebook after they were posted on one of their pages.
Facebook have rejected the complaints, stating: “We’ve reviewed the comment that you reported for promoting graphic violence and found that it doesn’t violate our Community Guidelines”. Their response also stated that they aim to ensure that Facebook is a “safe and welcoming environment”. The Alliance argued that two comments clearly breached both Facebook’s Community Guidelines and social media guidelines issued by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) last autumn: Guidelines on prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media
One of the comments, referring to a retired huntsman, said: “Love to put a noose round this w***ers neck and kick the useless excuse for a human off a long drop”, a follow up comment from another user said, “That piece of s**t needs to die..”
On the comment thread to the same post, one user sought to defend the retired huntsman, which resulted in her being attacked, with one user saying, “You dog faced b**ch, hope you fall off a horse and break your neck, scum”
The Facebook “Community Standards” state clearly that they “remove credible threats of physical harm to individuals.” Questions are now being raised by the Alliance regarding the consistency with which Facebook enforce their own standards, only two weeks ago, another Facebook page published a video of a Surrey vicar conducting a blessing of the hounds, a comment in response to the post said, “Kill him!”, this was removed by Facebook as they judged that it breached their community standards, they said:
“We’ve reviewed the comment that you reported for harassment. As it violated our community standards, we’ve removed it.”
Last autumn the CPS published guidelines relating to “prosecuting cases involving communications sent via social media”, which including two key categories of offence, Category 1 of the guidelines, relating to “credible threats” and Category 4 relating to “communications which are grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or false”.
Commenting upon Facebook’s decision not to remove the posts, a Spokesman for the Alliance, Tom Hunt said:
“There are two key questions here, firstly, why are Facebook so inconsistent in enforcing their own community standards and secondly, why do Facebook appear to have a greater tolerance of abuse and hate than the CPS?
“It’s astonishing how anyone could think that the comments we reported on one of our pages didn’t breach Category 4 of the CPS social media guidelines. There is a case that they may actually have breached Category 1 as well. There is a question as to why the Facebook community standards appear to fall so far short of the quite robust guidelines issued by the Director of Public Prosecutions last autumn.
“If Facebook’s breach of responsibility wasn’t so serious it would be laughable that whilst dismissing a complaint we made about a number of comments verging on death threats, they still insist that they aim to foster a ‘safe and welcoming environment’.
“The whole point of our Thunderclap campaign to combat online abuse was to shed a spotlight on the shortcomings of Facebook’s Community Standards and response to online abuse and hate. Please do joint our campaign as a supporter.”
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