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Facebook adding accountability to controversial content

As Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg put it at the “All Things Digital” conference this week, “Put your name on your sexism” – if you’re going to engage in behavior or sharing that’s offensive to others on your page, your name’s going to be on that page now. Sandberg was responding to a reporter’s question about Facebook’s announcement the previous day that it would be working with women’s rights groups to address hate content (see Larry Magid’s blog post in Forbes).

Used to be, Facebook Pages (not profiles or timelines) could be anonymous, but not anymore, if they spark legitimate abuse reports. [The legitimacy of abuse reports is sometimes a tough determination, social media moderators tell us, referring to high numbers of “false positives.”] In its blog post yesterday, Facebook stated that, earlier this year, it “began testing a new requirement that the creator of any content containing cruel and insensitive humor include his or her authentic identity” if the user wants to keep his or her content from being deleted. “We will increase the accountability of the creators of content that does not qualify as actionable hate speech but is cruel or insensitive by insisting that the authors stand behind the content they create.” This makes complete sense for a social media service that has always billed its “real name culture” as a safety feature. Accountability does increase safety, and Facebook will make good on that claim if it applies this policy consistently. Here’s coverage on this at The Verge.

Disclosure: As co-director of ConnectSafely.org, I’m a member of Facebook’s Safety Advisory Board.

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