Just a week after Tumblr announced its controversial plans to eliminate all NSFW content, Facebook is the latest social media website to find itself in hot water for imposing a crackdown on explicit material on its site. Facebook’s new guidelines went into effect on Oct. 15, but people are now beginning to notice.
PC Mag reports that the regulations are sweeping and banning sexual language that can be anywhere from graphic (such as dirty talk) to cheekily vague euphemisms like “looking to have a good time tonight.” However, as people fear the generality of Facebook’s guidelines will lead to censorship, spokespeople for the platform are unsurprisingly arguing that there’s no need to worry.
Facebook quietly made changes to its community guidelines in October, cracking down on everything from soliciting nudes to discussing sexual positions and posting erotic art. https://t.co/9daxpIHA9w
— Out Magazine (@outmagazine) December 6, 2018
One company spokesperson told The Verge that “This change was prompted, in large part, by conversations with our content reviewers, who told us that the sexual exploitation policy did not adequately distinguish between exploitation (e.g. My ex was a slut. Look at the photos she sent me.”) and solicitation (e.g. “Looking for swingers. Friday at 8 PM, [name of bar]. Wear pink.”), leading to confusion among reviewers, as well as the perception that we treat sexual exploitation and solicitation the same."
The announcement of new Community Guidelines comes on the heels of a rough year for Facebook, which has been marred by a host of scandals, Fortune reports.
These scandals include letting Cambridge Analytica, a political analysis firm linked to the 2016 Trump campaign, use Facebook users’ data to research the election, on top of the ever-present complaints surrounding the proliferation of fake news and the company’s consistent failure to monitor hate-speech.
The bottom line, however, is that Facebook content cannot be taken down unless it is reported, meaning that so long as everyone involved is comfortable with the conversation, the risk is minimal.