In some areas, Facebook's content standards are very strict: virtually any nudity, for example, is absolutely forbidden, as is content that contains hate speech or threatening language. Groups that operate under the banner of "controversial humor," however, can occupy a gray area in Facebook's accepted speech policy, where vicious bigotry is allowed as long as the posters claim they're being funny. The company has faced particular criticism for allowing sexism or violence against women — but now, Facebook has apologized for what it calls a "mistake" towards one photo in particular.

A few days ago, Wired wrote that Facebook had declined to take down a picture that had been Photoshopped to make an Icelandic woman look like she had been beaten, posted as retaliation when she wrote to a member of a group dedicated to the principle that "men are better than women." The photo came with a caption that Wired translates to "women are like grass, they need to be beaten/cut regularly." Now, they say Facebook has reached out, telling them that the photo "should have been taken down when it was reported to us and we apologize for the mistake."

"Women are like grass, they need to be beaten/cut regularly."

The photo itself has already been removed, by either Facebook or the group administrators, though Facebook had said before now that it didn't meet the criteria for deletion. Facebook's massive content machine strikes a delicate balance between maintaining its community standards, protecting free speech, and responding to public outcry. In this case, the results are arguably consistent with the posted policy (which forbids threats against specific users), but it's not clear why it wasn't removed in the first place, or if the company will keep applying the same standards once the public eye has moved on.