Facebook’s policy allows videos of violent abuse of animals

It is claimed that Facebook’s policy allows videos of violent abuse of animals for commercial reasons. Facebook’s attitude is that videos of violent abuse of animals and children improves user experience. A venture capitalist, Roger McNamee, who was an earlier investor in Facebook but who has since criticised it says that videos of animal and child abuse is the ‘crack cocaine’ of their product. He says that the extreme forms of content on Facebook is what attracts the most highly engaged people. Facebook deny this.

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(photo courtesy of Snopes)

Facebook moderators are instructed to make a choice from three options in respect of videos of violent abuse of children or animals. They can ignore it, delete it or mark it as disturbing. The latter option place a restriction upon the video as to who can see it.

I believe that within moderators’ instructions, Facebook policy states that clips showing the “repeated kicking, beating or stabbing of a child or an animal by an adult” should not be taken down. Instead they are marked as disturbing child abuse or in respect of animals I presume that they are labelled disturbing animal abuse or some such other description. But they remain accessible to anyone who claims to be over 18.

Channel 4’s Dispatches filmed training sessions at CPL Resources in Dublin which is Facebook’s largest centre for UK content moderation. Trainees were shown a video of a young boy being stamped on and abused terribly. It appears to be an actual video of gross child abuse. The tiny boy was about three weeks of age at the time and treated in hospital afterwards. His stepfather was jailed in Malaysia. The video was shared 44,000 times on Facebook. However, this video did not violate the terms and conditions of Facebook.

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An anonymous moderator at Facebook told Channel 4’s Dispatches, in respect of their policy to allow animal and child abuse videos:

“…for better user experience. If you start censoring too much, then people lose interest in the platform. It’s all about making money at the end of the day”.

Facebook deny this. The vice-president of public policy at Facebook, Richard Allan, said that shocking content does not make Facebook more money and to think that it does is a misunderstanding. He claimed that Facebook users want a secure and safe experience to share content with their family and friends. The vast majority of people, he says, don’t like sharing content that shocks and offends people.

Facebook also admit that moderators aren’t allowed to take down pages that have a lot of followers notwithstanding, it seems to me, that they might contain violent and abusive content. This reinforces the belief that Facebook prioritises profit over the dangers inherent in presenting videos of violent abuse. The argument of many is that video clips of animal abuse (often cat abuse) encourages it among impressionable youths.

Sources: Channel 4 Dispatches via The Times Newspaper.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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