How fast can a company return a comment after deleting it?
Recent allegations that Facebook deleted the account of a pastor in Northern Ireland to prevent him from posting about the St Patrick’s Day violence there have sparked public outrage.
Now, a leaked document has revealed that Facebook pays $50 (£39) to restore posts after they’ve been deleted – but that this varies considerably across the US and various other countries.
Facebook has set it at $1 for comments removed for posting in Nigeria and $2 for posts in Indonesia, indicating a range between the number of words removed and the price. In the US, it drops to $5 for posts but rises to $50 for “repeat offenders” in Pakistan.
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In Australia, Facebook does not offer more than $5 to restore posts, and only offers $5 to delete or restrict posts from being posted by repeat offenders.
The figures – which were obtained by the Washington Post under the Freedom of Information Act – show that most of Facebook’s efforts focus on policing racist and homophobic posts.
The documents show some other interesting facts about Facebook’s maintenance of its own standards on “offensive content”. These were the sources of removal – and were initially in the minority, with a better proportion relating to videos of terrorists plotting terrorist attacks.
Post was deleted due to ‘offensive language’
Example: a woman posts “appalling” video of attack on Muslims during St Patrick’s Day parade
In the US, 86% of the removal involved racist content. In Facebook’s global “communication standards,” and under “offensive content”, the most common explanation for removed content is “offensive language”.
There is no overall breakdown of what is labelled “offensive language”, but some in the US did choose to remove content that they considered to be overtly racist or discriminatory.
Post may have violated ‘law’
Example: video of terrorists posting video of terrorist attack
In the US, nearly half of the removal happened due to “video”. The “law” for the removal of such content was unclear. The original argument on Facebook, when the posting was removed by human moderators, was that the video contained material that was illegal, implying the video was in violation of terrorist laws.
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But in a follow-up comment, Facebook said that the “angry rhetoric and inaccurate accusations against us” led them to reach a conclusion that the video was also illegal.
This could be indicative of what it means to violate terms of service in a wide range of locations – especially considering that the Israeli military uses a similar line on its own site.
Post was meant to be seen by friends but could be posted without permission
Example: explicit post of partially naked woman
In the US, “friend endorsement” emerged as a major reason why posts were deleted. Only 2% of removal of posts included third-party feedback on a site. In Australia, the fraction was closer to 10%.
Other countries have social norms different from Australia’s, particularly with regard to child sexual abuse images. In Norway, where child sexual abuse material has faced serious punishments, such as life imprisonment for a murder, Facebook removed 18% of posts related to child abuse last year. In Israel, 40% of posts were removed, “due to explicit content”.