Monday, March 16, 2015

Facebook tries to fine-tune its TOS rules; when should blogger-journalists report violations or contact police? When does "see something, say something" kick in?

The New York Times, in a Business Section article Monday March 16, 2015 by Vindu Goel, with a rather beefy picture of Mark Zuckerberg, p. B6, reports “Facebook clarifies rules on what it bans and why”, link here 
Facebook has in fact posted its new Community Standards page here.  
Apparently (contrary to my perception), Facebook has been stricter than some portions of Google (Blogger) on porn, which recently generated controversy.  It also bans certain violent or hate-filled content or that sponsored by terrorist groups.  It does not seem to have as much trouble as Twitter in the latter regard. 

The company is apparently banning revenge porn for the first time.

Facebook has also started to soften the rules on using real names, as it now allows drag queens to use stage names (which had always been the practice on Myspace). 

Facebook still enforces its standards ex post facto;  it depends on users to report violations.  This is something I have never done.

After a particularly baffling crime in suburban Maryland in 2008, however, I found “threats” regarding the incident on MySpace, and also on two Blogger postings that I believe Blogger would normally have removed according to TOS policies at the time.  I did not act until 2013, when I mentioned the case to a northern Virginia police department in a case that turned out to be unrelated.  So, in practice, I don’t usually complain or “tattle” unless something I find rises to the need to contact law enforcement, which I think has happened about five times since 2001. 

There is a really good question:  what should an individual “blogger journalist” (without “privilege” to “protect sources”) do when finding information that law enforcement is likely to have overlooked because of some unusual aspect about the way content is perceived or interpreted? 

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