AN OPEN LETTER CORRECTING FIVE PASSAGES FROM FACEBOOK’S ‘COMMUNITY STANDARDS’

By

Creative Future

Dear Facebook Human Resources,

We were recently partaking in some light summer reading by combing through the Community Standards section of your website – and were surprised to discover five key passages that must have been written by someone who doesn’t know your company. We wanted to bring the problem to your attention immediately.

We know that you are currently very busy dealing with data leaks and other scandalsnegotiating multi-billion-dollar fines (congratulations on getting that one done!), and fending off criminal investigations, so it’s understandable that you may have missed these important details. Fortunately, we have a top-notch Communications team (albeit teeny-tiny) here at CreativeFuture that has taken the liberty of editing these passages for you. You’ll see them below as red-lined corrections to the original document. We are happy to help you put forward a much more accurate portrayal of the Facebook “ethos” at this critical juncture.

1.) INTRODUCTION

Every day, people come to Facebook to share their stories, see the world through the eyes of others, and connect with friends and causes, spread hatred and misinformation, peddle illegal goods, bully and troll other users, and corrode the foundations of democracy and civil discourse. The What passes for conversations that happen on Facebook reflects the diversity chaos of an uncontrollable community of more than two billion people communicating across countries and cultures and in dozens of languages, posting everything from text to violent and disturbing and infringing and otherwise troubling photos and videos.

We recognize how important it is for Facebook to present ourselves be as a place where people feel “empowered to communicate” (please stop asking us what that means – the PR experts said it sounded good), and we take our role in keeping pretending like there’s a chance in hell of ever keeping abuse off our service seriously. That’s why we have developed a set of Community Standards that outline what is and is not allowed on Facebook. Our Standards apply around the world to all types of content. They’re designed to be comprehensive – for example because it would be really hard to formulate a separate, specific set of guidelines on, say, content that might not be considered hate speech may still be removed for violating our bullying policies in every single country.

Sure, the goal of our Community Standards is to encourage expression and create a safe environment, but do you know how hard it would be to account for all the world’s linguistic and cultural nuances so that Facebook truly is safe for everyone? (Seriously, have you tried to figure out what passes for offensive diatribe in, like, Myanmar? Impossible. That’s why we’ve just translated these Standards that were written by Americans to whatever language it is they speak there – and it’s working out great. Don’t even worry about it. Seriously, don’t look it up – DO NOT.) Just know that we base our policies on input from our community and from experts in fields such as technology and public safety. Who are these experts, you ask? Who cares! They are EXPERTS. What else do you need to know?

2.) Privacy Violations and Image Privacy Rights

Pretending to care about privacy while the protection of madly harvesting personal information so that we can churn it into billions of dollars in ad revenue are fundamentally important values for Facebook. We work hard to convince you that we are keeping your account secure and safeguarding your personal information in order to protect you from potential physical or financial harm and not just shopping it around to the highest bidder. Sure, we utterly failed to protect your data that one time. Oh, right, and that other time, too. Okay, yeah, there was also that one other time. And then, sure, if you want to get nitpicky, then yes, this also happened. And also this. And, fine, yes there was this. Plus, there was… hey look! It’s one of your friend’s birthdays! Better go send them one of our world-famous Facebook birthday greetings! Did you know you can send them a birthday story now? How cool is that!?

3.) Misrepresentation

Authenticity Misrepresentation is the cornerstone of our community, and it starts at the top: Our own fearless leader makes grand proclamations about “building a global community” even though his percentage of Facebook voting shares actually makes him a kind of dictator who doesn’t have to listen to anyone. Why do we let him get away with it? Because we believe that people are more multibillion-dollar internet companies should not be held accountable for their statements and actions when they use their authentic identities that occur on their platforms. That’s why we make a big deal out of our requirement that people to connect on Facebook using the name they go by in everyday life. Even though we’ve actually removed billions of fake accounts – a problem that is only getting worse – having a “real name”-policy makes it look like we’re a trustworthy friend who genuinely cares about authenticity, and who doesn’t spend millions of dollars every year to shape policies that erode your privacy rights and preserve the safe harbor laws that let us off the hook for most of the terrible, toxic things that happen on our platform every minute of every day. The truth is, our authenticity misrepresentation policies are intended to create a safe environment for Facebook, not you! where People can trust and hold one another accountable on their own time.

4.) False News

Reducing the spread of false news on Facebook is a responsibility that we take seriously. We also recognize that this is a challenging and sensitive issue. We want to help people stay informed without stifling productive public discourse, but our business model depends on viral content that foments outrage and controversy. There is also a fine line between false news – such as articles that spread misinformation about vaccinations for children – and satire or opinion – such as all those hilarious “thought pieces” alleging that the government is forcing you to vaccinate your kids so they can “control them,” whatever that means. 

What’s a giant corporation to do whose shareholders don’t like it when our traffic dips down? For these reasons It’s simple: we don’t remove false news from Facebook but instead, significantly reduce its distribution by showing it lower in the News Feed. That way, we can still make lots of money from it, but you won’t have it shoved in your face all the time – just sometimes. It’s a solution that benefits everyone: The trolls can keep on publishing hate speech and misinformation; our users can turn a blind eye to the rot and decay at the heart of our platform; and our investors can still swim in blood money. Win-win-win!

5.) Intellectual Property

Facebook takes intellectual property rights seriously and believes they are important to promoting expression, creativity, and innovation in our community. You own all of the content and information you post on Facebook, and you control how it is shared through your privacy and application settings. What’s that you say? There are numerous groups on our platform with tens of thousands of members who are freely sharing illegally downloaded films and music? That’s why we ask that However, before sharing content on Facebook, please be sure you have the right to do so. We also ask that you respect other people’s copyrights, trademarks, and other legal rights… Facebook’s Terms of Service do not allow people to post content that violates someone else’s intellectual property rights, including copyright and trademark. Okay? Happy now? Look, you’re lucky we even offer that – thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, we actually don’t have to take any proactive measures to seek out pirated content, if we don’t want to… But yes, upon receipt of a report from a rights holder or an authorized representative, we will are, lucky for you, obligated against our will to remove or restrict content – eventually. Like, when we have a free moment (we’re very busy, so don’t hold your breath), or when the illegal link has stopped making us boatloads of unearned money. You’re welcome.

*******

Thank you for reviewing our suggested changes to Facebook’s Community Standards. We are excited to see them implemented so that your company can show the world how much you really do value transparency and community input. (Maybe don’t tell Zuck though. Just update everything when he’s out of the office – probably in front of some legislative body somewhere in the world apologizing yet again for what Facebook does and promising to “to better.”  He won’t notice the changes. When was the last time he even looked at these anyway, right?)

Sincerely,

CreativeFuture

This article was originally published in Creative Future

 
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