Do you trust Facebook to censor the content that your kids are looking at? You shouldn’t.
Even though Facebook welcomes minors as young as 13 years of age, and looks the other way if an even younger user starts an account, Facebook is only in the censorship game when it suits their interests.
Consider the strange flip-flop that the social network did this month when it came to the question of whether users could post video footage of beheadings. In July of this year, Facebook implemented an earlier-announced ban on videos of beheadings, and that ban stayed in effect until last week.
According to the current Facebook Community Standards:
Facebook has long been a place where people turn to share their experiences and raise awareness about issues important to them. Sometimes, those experiences and issues involve graphic content that is of public interest or concern, such as human rights abuses or acts of terrorism. In many instances, when people share this type of content, it is to condemn it. However, graphic images shared for sadistic effect or to celebrate or glorify violence have no place on our site.
You can see that Facebook leaves themselves some wiggle room here. Last week, a user posted a video of a beheading that supposedly occurred in Mexico.
I can’t be sure of the poster’s intent or the context of the post, but according to Facebook standards, if it was posted to inform Facebook users of the horrors going down in Mexico, and users were warned that they would be seeing graphic content, it should have been allowed. Shortly after the video went up, Facebook admins chose to take it down, citing the following:
“…we have re-examined recent reports of graphic content and have concluded that this content improperly and irresponsibly glorifies violence. For this reason, we have removed it.”
So, Facebook’s policy as it stands now is that it will allow some not-safe-for-kids content, but only until someone complains and then Facebook will review the poster’s intent and may take the content down. If that doesn’t sound like a foolproof system, it’s because it isn’t. And keep in mind that Facebook changes its policies frequently.
The public seems to be split on whether Facebook should allow graphic content, at least here in New Jersey. According to a poll by News 12 NJ, 35% of respondent think that Facebook users should be allowed to post and view freely.
As a parent, you probably use Facebook to connect with friends and family, and you may have never seen anything inappropriate on the site. You can’t be sure that your teen won’t. If you’re concerned that younger Facebook users will be exposed to explicit content, you should wait until they’re older to allow them to join.
Contact ThirdParent any time for help and resources for monitoring teen internet activity.