By the end of the week, a scandal will be set off that won’t literally touch your life.
News outlets will have reportedly obtained a secret internal document showing a list of actions taken by Facebook on the score of 2,400 reports of harassment. Some of the actions — deactivating an account, removing a post, or even permanently removing it — could take anywhere from a few hours to as much as two weeks.
As social media users around the world react to the leaked document, there’s evidence in the reporting to the documents that much of the discussion about Facebook’s standards of speech is either wildly inaccurate or wishful thinking. The document is, for better or worse, inside knowledge.
But the list of actions appears to follow the algorithm-driven work Facebook puts in place to control what people see. Facebook has said that it’s working to change the balance, but the document demonstrates how that can sometimes be uneven, unfair and costly.
The 2,400 “verified” user reports gathered over four months could range from an incident of bullying to “stalking, threatening the use of force, and serious bodily harm,” the document says. The decision on these cases could range from “reposting to removal of.”
In terms of time, these decisions would depend on where you are in the United States. A person with such a report at New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood is three times more likely to have the post marked as unsafe or deleted than a person with the same complaint in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Here’s how it would work for Texas: A person in Leander, the north-central city of the state, is seven times more likely to see a report as having been removed and on the next page are people in Round Rock and El Paso. However, in Houston, the return rate for removal is just slightly over 50%.
After publication, Facebook provided a statement to CNNMoney which said: “We aren’t aware of a particular article that caused any abnormal rates of removal across the country. We focus on removing content that is directed at others and may be harmful or violence threatening.”
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