There’s no word yet on who created the Canadian Facebook page titled “Cutest Teens 2013 – 2014” but there is no doubt that a lot of teens thought it was a fun idea. As you might expect, it also attracted cyberbullies. According to a story by CTV News, the page was reported to Facebook and subsequently taken down – taken down within 30 minutes of it being reported.
The idea of the page was that teens could post selfies there (if they thought they were cute, apparently), and others could vote (“like”) for pictures, and leave comments. The site had amassed 17,000 photos by the time Canadian TV network CTV became aware of it, and reported it to Facebook.
I was surprised to see that the page was quashed so quickly. Facebook’s policy on policing users is as follows:
Facebook does not tolerate bullying or harassment. We allow users to speak freely on matters and people of public interest, but take action on all reports of abusive behavior directed at private individuals.
I presume that Facebook took down the page because users were harassing or bullying the kids who posted pictures. Since the site has been taken down, I didn’t get a chance to see any of the comments or photos, except the one quoted in the article:
“I feel bad for your parents knowing they have to look at you and be reminded you’re a product of them,” one person wrote
If kids were getting bullied on the page I understand that Facebook was right to do something, but:
- Taking down the page seems a less appropriate response than sanctioning the users who were doing the bullying
- Facebook may have acted because the contest violated Facebook’s rules (but I think that’s a long shot)
- If Facebook gave the page extra scrutiny because the pictures were of users under 18, they should disclose that in their terms of service
- If Facebook took down the page because they were pressured by a major media organization, that doesn’t seem right
Facebook is going to walk a thinner and thinner line between not alienating free speech loving users and protecting the rights of users being harassed. In this example, Facebook would have better served the community by punishing the bullies. I’m waiting to hear back from CTV about whether they have further information, so feel free to check back in.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.