Facebook just updated their community standards, and much of their new policy is a reaction to flak they have faced in the past. It also shows how inadequate technology is at monitoring and policing the 1.3 billion users that use Facebook. There’s no substitute for the human perspective and judgement on whether something should, or should not, be allowed online.

In the past, Facebook has made a few policies that are now specifically rolled back (or have been in the past). For example:

No nudity now becomes no nudity that specifically focusses on the genitals or buttocks in a specifically-sexual way. Artistic nudity and nudity in art are ok. Technically that means that a porn shot with a few artistic Photoshop filters over top would be fine.

No shots of breasts now becomes no sexualized shots of breasts. Breastfeeding images, even with nipple showing, are ok. And, after coming under considerable flack from breast cancer survivors, shots of post-mastectomy chests are fine.

The threats of harm or self-harm are also ambiguous and hard to define, but I certainly applaud their efforts to use the platform as a place to be free from threat and bullying. However, it’s vastly inadequate, as much of that is done in private message, and not written on a user’s timeline. They can’t police that, at least not without admitting they read all your private messages (which they may or may not be doing).

Their recent addition of 50+ possible gender identities is another area of both concern and near-hilarity. But, their “real name" policy drew the ire of many in the trans community, who wanted to represent their “authentic self" and not their current legal name. I’m not sure why we need 50 options, when the addition of “trans" would likely have been sufficient. But when Facebook backpedals, they do so in style.

Their community guidelines are well worth the read, and are certainly laid out in an easy-to-digest format. Just be aware that no guidelines are ever going to really make it “safe" for any user. But at least the woman who had her photos banned because Facebook thought her bare elbows were breasts can feel better now.