Facebook will begin allowing more explicit posts if they are "newsworthy, significant, or important to the public interest," the company said today, following a series of controversies over deleted content. "Our intent is to allow more images and stories without posing safety risks or showing graphic images to minors and others who do not want to see them," said Joel Kaplan, vice president of global public policy, and Justin Osofsky, vice president of global operations and media partnerships, in a blog post.
Facebook has been under increasing pressure to relax its community standards to allow for posts that include violence or nudity in some contexts. Yesterday the company apologized after removing a video from the Swedish Cancer Society that promoted breast cancer awareness with simple animations of the female body. Last month, Facebook sparked an outcry by removing an iconic photo from the Vietnam War. (It later reversed itself.)
"Respecting local norms and upholding global practices often come into conflict."
The company offered few details about how it plans to allow more sensitive content to be posted. "We will work with our community and partners to explore exactly how to do this, both through new tools and approaches to enforcement," Kaplan and Osofsky said. They noted that standards vary from culture to culture, and that decisions around newsworthiness or public interest are often highly subjective. "Respecting local norms and upholding global practices often come into conflict," they said. "And people often disagree about what standards should be in place to ensure a community that is both safe and open to expression."
Of course, Facebook could hire human editors to help make those decisions. But, well, you know.