Facebook Content Standards: Arty Nudity Okay; 'Moose Knuckles' Not So Much

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The next time you feel like photoshopping a blown-apart head of one of your enemies and then uploading it to Facebook, the site moderators are perfectly fine with that - just make sure that the picture doesn't actually depict any of the insides of that head.

That doesn't make sense, but it doesn't matter because that's the law of the land according to the manual used by the live content moderators that comb through Facebook's gobs of material to identify what gets deleted and what stays. The manual, which the super-sleuths at Gawker were able to get their hands on, contains a dizzying list of guidelines that determine what content moderators are to leave posted on Facebook, what they need to delete, and that stuff in the middle that requires the input of Facebook. Facebook has to be consulted on some of those latter matters because they aren't actually involved in the immediate process of content moderation. As in, Facebook doesn't actually moderate the content in-house. Instead, Facebook outsources the menial task to a company called oDesk, who pays people a commission to pour through Facebook in search of speech and images uploaded by users to make sure none of it violates Facebook's community standards.

The gruesome yet confusing photo I described at the beginning of this article is actually an acceptable image according to the abuse standards used by the moderators. Here's a sample of what else you can and can't get away with on Facebook:

  • Art nudity is okay.
  • "Bodily fluids (except semen) are ok to show unless a human being is captured in the process (to confirm as cyberbullying)."
  • No pics of people on the can or using a urinal. Or an alleyway, for that matter.
  • No pictures of "camel toes or moose knuckles" - yes, those are the exact words included in the manual. It's on page 4 under "Sex and Nudity."
  • Breastfeeding is still forbidden.
  • Male nipples are okay, but not female nipples.
  • Violent speech, such as "I love hearing skulls crack," are no good. However, images of crushed heads are perfectly fine so long as "no insides are showing."
  • "Users may not describe sexual activity in writing, except when an attempt at humor or insult." (??)
  • Not threatening of people such as police officers or state officials by photoshopping "cross-hairs of a gun sight" onto their image.
  • Pot depiction is okay, just so long as you aren't selling, buying, or growing it.
  • Have a look at the full Abuse Standard section below to see what else will get you flagged and what else will just make you an offensive jerk to all of your Facebook friends.

    Abuse Standards 6.2 - Operation Manual