To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

Facebook bans buttocks and nipples, but permits beheadings

Facebook clarifies what it will permit to be shown on social network

Facebook has set out clearer guidelines about what is and isn’t allowed to be published on the social network, including explicit detail about its rules on nudity. The social network has provided the guidance in its newly revamped Community Standards section, which details the company’s policy on threats, criminal activity, bullying and other anti-social behaviour. 

Facebook has faced criticism for its erratic attitude to nudity in photographs, with the company previously removing photos of women breastfeeding. Now, the company explains exactly what is and isn’t permitted when it comes to photographing the human body. “We remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks,” the social network explains. “We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring.”

Artworks depicting naked bodies are permitted, according to Facebook’s rules, but “explicit images of sexual intercourse” and “some verbal descriptions of sexual acts that go into vivid detail” may be removed, which is probably bad news for the 50 Shades of Grey fan page. 

Facebook has also recently been criticised for allowing users to share videos of hostages being beheaded by terrorists. The company is seemingly standing by that policy, although reserves the right to remove content depending on the context in which it is being shared. “Facebook has long been a place where people share their experiences and raise awareness about important issues,” the company states. “Sometimes, those experiences and issues involve violence and graphic images of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses or acts of terrorism. In many instances, when people share this type of content, they are condemning it or raising awareness about it. We remove graphic images when they are shared for sadistic pleasure or to celebrate or glorify violence.”

Furthermore, Facebook says it won’t permit terrorists, organised criminals or hate groups to establish a presence on the site. “We also remove content that expresses support for groups that are involved in the violent, criminal or hateful behaviour mentioned above,” the site says. “Supporting or praising leaders of those same organisations, or condoning their violent activities, is not allowed.”

Celebrity bashing

Facebook has also set out rules about the way public figures are treated. “We permit open and critical discussion of people who are featured in the news or have a large public audience based on their profession or chosen activities,” says Facebook. “We remove credible threats to public figures, as well as hate speech directed at them – just as we do for private individuals.”

However, Facebook has a tighter set of regulations covering “private individuals” – which it defines as “people who have neither gained news attention, nor the interest of the public by way of their actions or public profession”. The site says it will remove pages that “identify and shame private individuals”, images that are altered to degrade them, or personal information that has been shared in order to harass or blackmail them.

Facebook says it will also remove “credible threats of physical harm to individuals”, although qualifies that by saying: “We may consider such factors as a person’s physical location or public visibility in determining whether a threat is credible. For instance, we may treat as more serious threats to people living in violent and unstable regions.”

Read more