'New Zealand winner!' Jacqueline

Facebook and its inadequate Community Standards are set out in their section explaining policies…

…and yet, when the average user reports something, the moderators seem to lose their heads.
When each user signs up to Facebook, they agree to the following terms:

Safety

We do our best to keep Facebook safe, but we cannot guarantee it. We need your help to keep Facebook safe, which includes the following commitments by you:

  1. You will not post unauthorized commercial communications (such as spam) on Facebook.
  2. You will not collect users’ content or information, or otherwise access Facebook, using automated means (such as harvesting bots, robots, spiders, or scrapers) without our prior permission.
  3. You will not engage in unlawful multi-level marketing, such as a pyramid scheme, on Facebook.
  4. You will not upload viruses or other malicious code.
  5. You will not solicit login information or access an account belonging to someone else.
  6. You will not bully, intimidate, or harass any user.
  7. You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.
  8. You will not develop or operate a third-party application containing alcohol-related, dating or other mature content (including advertisements) without appropriate age-based restrictions.
  9. You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory.
  10. You will not do anything that could disable, overburden, or impair the proper working or appearance of Facebook, such as a denial of service attack or interference with page rendering or other Facebook functionality.
  11. You will not facilitate or encourage any violations of this Statement or our policies.

Now try getting them to honour it. 

There are other sections and I could bore you reciting them all but Facebook don’t adhere to those when you get a problem either, so I figured what was the point cutting and pasting those too?

My youngest daughter is 18 and her profile page is locked down as tightly as it could be, because that was the condition on which she was allowed it aged 16. Having watched me struggle as a female author with the seedy private messages on my public page and the odd comments and truly strange people who tried to attach themselves to me, she has a good grasp on how badly Facebook can go south and ruin a good night’s sleep.

So when she reported to Facebook earlier this year, that someone she didn’t know had taken her public profile and cropped it to highlight the outline of her breasts in her dress, tagged her and posted it everywhere – you would have expected them to see it as a violation of many things.

Not so.

The message came back loud and clear.

Facebook did not consider there had been a contravention of any of their community standards.

Duh!

What about number 6?
What about number 9?

She untagged herself in all the pictures and locked that area, which had been undone in the settings during one of Facebook’s famous updates. She wrote another report to Facebook, stating how it made her feel as a teenager to be targeted by a stranger in this way. Then she waited for a reply in the deafening silence and it never came.

There were no consequences for this very odd person who thinks this behaviour is ok. They’re still out there on Facebook and coming to a family member near you. Your profile picture stays public and there’s nothing you can do about it. We’re all fair game.

I had a problem with a page I helped administer at work when some clown decided to use our logo, header page and other information to clone my place of work and start posting things which we would never in our right mind want associated with our very respectable institution. Despite a visit from the local newspaper, involvement of the local police – as this was part of a wider issue and complaints to Facebook from many of our staff, clients and members of the public, they decided in their wisdom that this kind of behaviour didn’t contravene any of their Community Standards.

Standard format reply saying very little at all apart from

Go Away!

I spend a lot of time on my Facebook author page K T Bowes NZ because that’s where my fans are and my dedicated bunch of gung ho readers who support my work and ra ra me on when I’m feeling like I should probably give up. In the last year I’ve been inundated with friend requests from people, usually males, almost always sporting some kind of US military uniforms who look legit but then it begins…the private messages.

Them: Hi
Me: Hi
Them: You have a lovely smile/eyes/hair – delete as appropriate
Me: BLOCK

If they bothered to read my bio, they’d know I grew up in the British Royal Air Force from aged 0 – 18 and spent my entire childhood surrounded by squaddies. I learned to ride my first bike on the runway at RAF Gutersloh in West Germany, chased by an air traffic controller complete with tennis bats, who wanted me off the runway so he could land the Hercules hanging over my pedalling body as I weaved like a drunkard.

My son was in the NZ Army and I know how they speak.

That is not how.

Does Facebook care? Nope, not even when they’ve become explicit or downright pestering. My only recourse is to block, so that’s what I do.

I fear for those parents who let their children run riot across social media and claim they don’t understand it. As I’ve said before, that’s no excuse. LEARN. Don’t be that parent who ends up sitting outside the morgue wondering why they didn’t get someone to run them through the basics of social media platforms their child used; just so they knew what was going on in their cyber world. As the tax man is fond of saying, ‘Ignorance is no excuse.’ It sounds harsh but if it shocks a technophobe into getting their other child, nephew, niece or friend to show them how it works, then it’s worth the criticism I’ll get for saying it.

Facebook needs to tighten up their stuff. It feels automated, even though they promise it isn’t. There are meant to be four teams of people trawling through our horrified complaints. So if a young woman is uncomfortable about what a stranger has done to her photograph and it makes her feel ick, or I don’t want a catfish US colonel trying to find out where I live, Facebook is meant to help me and yet seems powerless to fit our problem into a category.

SO MAKE MORE CATEGORIES.

I know at the end of the day, Facebook isn’t responsible for the behaviour of its users. It’s like a moron riding into Stupid Street on a perfectly serviceable bike called Facebook and colliding with a lamp post on the corner of Idiot and Numb Nuts. It’s not the bike’s fault. It could be the lamp post’s if it moved a bit but there were no witnesses. Mean people will be cruel and wicked and use any platform to eek out their horrible designs. Facebook is just one of them.

After speaking to someone yesterday about the death threats which weren’t considered against the Facebook Community Standards or the poor woman harassed by a total stranger, I despair.

Facebook, you need real people, more real people in your dungeons pouring over the handiwork of the sickos and victim hunters. Don’t give us this rubbish about Community Standards. Amend your standards to fit what the community really think is unacceptable. Let us speak to employed Facebook advisers, who would make better decisions about why we’re upset if they could just come out from behind the Facebook wall and talk to us.

Some of the argument is that it’s free and it is. BUT I know authors tipping over thousands of dollars a week in Facebook ads and the average Joes of us are the paycheck when those adverts get seen and acted upon. I think from my last look at their financials; they’re not starving.

It’s a paradox

If we want to use Facebook to stay in touch with family and friends – for me that’s invaluable – then we have to live with the consequences, be incredibly wise and act quickly when we see something on our, or a loved one’s page.

We want it but it’s bad for us; like chocolate, alcohol and the other nice things which get abused.

For anyone who’s interested, here is Facebook’s 2012 explanation of their reporting process.
What happens after you click report…

K T Bowes is the bestselling author of The Hana Du Rose Mysteries, From Russia, With Love series, The Troubled series for teenagers and some other standalone novels stretching from the wintry depths of England to the sunny wilderness of New Zealand.

You can join her mailing list to claim a free K T Bowes library starter novel and receive updates about her work.
No spam though; not of the meat product variety or the ‘you must have this ear waxer’ variety.

LINK to her gift page

LINK to her other free books– of which there are a few

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