Takedowns and blocks: Facebook responds
I was automatically logged out of Facebook last week. Upon logging back in, I was informed that one of my Facebook post's had violated Facebook's Community Standards, and that it had subsequently been taken down. I was also blocked from posting on Facebook for 24 hours. You can read a fuller account here.
The next day, I sent a number of questions to Facebook's press office:
- How would a post about police harassment in Singapore be in violation of Facebook’s community standards?
- What is Facebook’s process in deciding when a post should be removed? Is there always a person around to review the post?
- Are there ways in which a post can be automatically removed by Facebook; for example, if it was reported a certain number of times? If so, how many people need to report a post for it to get automatically removed?
- How does Facebook decide which case requires a block (from what I understand, the activist who actually wrote the post wasn’t blocked, even though I am). Is the block always 24 hours long?
- How do people who have experienced this write in to Facebook to appeal their cases?
- Removing such posts could trigger criticism that Facebook is complicit in suppressing dissent and free speech, particularly in more authoritarian countries. What is Facebook’s position on this?
Facebook responded today. According to a spokesperson, posts aren't taken down simply because a large number of people reported them:
"Suppressing content or preventing people from seeing what matters most to them is simply contradictory with Facebook's mission to make the world more open and connected. In order to maintain an open and safe environment on Facebook, we have global Community Standards that describe what is and is not allowed on our service. It doesn’t matter how many times a piece of content is reported, it will be treated the same. One report is enough to take down content if it violates our policies, and multiple reports will not lead to the removal of content if it meets our standards."
However, the spokesperson also said that mistakes do sometimes occur, as they have "millions of reports to review each week". The post I shared – which was originally written by Teo Soh Lung – was apparently one of these posts. I was assured that it had been reinstated, but have not yet been able to see it on Facebook.