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August 08, 2018

Report: Facebook Quick To Respond, Slow To Act On Porn Complaint

Facebook made news this week when it finally imposed a ban on far-right wing radio and social media personality Alex Jones, and his ultra-paranoid InfoWars program, from the social media mega-platform—after initially refusing to do so—but according to a report published Tuesday on the tech news site Venture Beat, the platform still takes a “dangerously inept” approach to responding to user complaints about content, including porn. In fact, Venture Beat writer Jeremy Horwitz reported, the platform was much quicker to respond to a complaint about “porn” in an advertisement than to a complaint about “spam.” Horwitz made his complaints about advertisements that appeared on the Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform Instagram. He wrote that after reporting a spam account, Instagram responded saying that the account had been removed from the platform—17 weeks after he submitted the complaint. But when he submitted a complaint about what he said was porn in an advertisement, things went very differently. “Lest you think Instagram always takes four full months to take action on a report, I can assure you that’s not the norm,” Horwitz wrote. “If you report an image or account for pornographic content, you can be pretty sure someone—or something—at Instagram will take a look very quickly.” In fact, the writer said that it took the platform no more than eight hours to get back to him—only to tell him that the ad was just fine under Facebook policies. He also registered a complaint about a “fake news” story that circulated on Facebook, a story that falsely reported the death of beloved actress Betty White. While Facebook responded promptly, he said, the company also declined to remove advertising containing the death hoax, saying that nothing about the ad violated its policies. “You probably won’t be surprised to hear that it’s indeed a violation of Facebook’s Ad Policies to use an ad to falsely claim the death of a celebrity,” Horwitz wrote. What counts as “porn” to Facebook remains unclear—as does what counts as “hate speech,” or “fake news” apparently. According to a CNN report last month, well before Facebook finally pulled Alex Jones from the platform, the director of the Facebook news feed continued to allow Jones in the feed because, “we created Facebook to be a place where different people can have a voice. And different publishers have very different points of view." Jones is now being sued by the families of nine children murdered in the 2012 Sandy Hook schoolhouse massacre. Jones has repeatedly claimed that the mass murder never happened and the children killed in the shooting were simply actors, faking their own deaths. Followers of Jones have engaged in relentless harassment campaigns against the parents, forcing one set of parents now suing Jones to move seven times for security reasons. Despite the platform’s earlier refusal to take action against Jones, after Apple removed a series of Jones podcasts from its iTunes Store platform over the weekend, Facebook quickly followed suit and banned Jones. Image by  Mike MacKenzie / Flickr Creative Commons 

 
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