Amine Derkaoui, a 21-year-old Moroccan man, is pissed at Facebook. Last year he spent a few weeks training to screen illicit Facebook content through an outsourcing firm, for which he was paid a measly $1 an hour. He’s still fuming over it.
It’s humiliating. They are just exploiting the third world, Derkaoui complained in a thick French accent over Skype just a few weeks after Facebook filed their record $100 billion IPO. As a sort of payback, Derkaoui gave us some internal documents, which shed light on exactly how Facebook censors the dark content it doesn’t want you to see, and the people whose job it is to make sure you don’t.
Whenever Facebook deletes an image it deems objectionable, it refers the offending user to its rambling Statement of Rights and Responsibilities. That policy is vague when it comes to content moderation, and probably intentionally so. If users knew exactly what criteria was being used to judge their content, they could hold Facebook to them. It would be clear what Facebook was choosing to censor according to its policies, and what amounted to arbitrary censorship.
Well, now we know Facebook’s exact standards. Derkaoui provided us with a copy of the astonishingly specific guidelines Facebook dictates to content moderators. It’s the public’s first look at exactly what Facebook considers beyond the pale, and what sketchy content it won’t allow in videos, images and wall posts. The document is essentially a map of Facebook’s moral terrain.
The content moderation team Derkaoui was a member of uses a web-based tool to view a stream of pictures, videos and wall posts that have been reported by users. They either confirm the flag, which deletes the content, unconfirm it, which lets it stay, or escalate it to a higher level of moderation, which turns the content in question over to Facebook employees.
Example rules defining content for which abuse reports are confirmed and the content is taken down:
- Any OBVIOUS sexual activity, even if naked parts are hidden from view by hands, clothes or other objects. Cartoons/art included. Foreplay allowed (Kissing, groping, etc.). even for same sex (man-rnan/woman woman
- Naked private parts including female nipple bulges and naked butt cracks; male nipples are ok.
- Pixelated or black-barred content showing nudity or sexual activity as above.
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