Marine scandal highlights Facebook’s hypocrisy about moderating objectionable content

Marine scandal highlights Facebook's hypocrisy about moderating objectionable content

Facebook has been criticized in the past when it has removed pictures of mother’s breast feeding or breast cancer survivors showing their mastectomy scars as objectionable content. Yet Facebook let a closed Facebook group where Marines and Marine veterans traded explicit pictures of female Marines taken without their consent remain active for months.

The group called ‘Marines United’ not only posted these pictures on Facebook, but they often included personal information of the women portrayed in these pictures. The group was first exposed by a website called War Horse which is a nonprofit news organization run by a Marine veteran. War Horse requested that the images be removed but the group wasn’t shut down until Facebook received a request from the Marine Corps itself and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Both the Corps and the NCIS are conducting investigations into the matter.

To further show Facebook’s lack of consistency in these matters the BBC conducted their own investigation into Facebook when it was claimed in England that there were private pedophile groups on Facebook sharing questionable material. In their investigation the BBC posted several questionable but not illegal images to Facebook. According to the BBC the photos were in direct violation of Facebook’s terms of service in regards to the posting pictures of children, however, the pictures were not removed. When the BBC sent the pictures to Facebook’s office in the UK rather than discussing the matter with the BBC, Facebook reported the BBC to the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).

How can Facebook not only portray itself as family friendly, let alone advertiser friendly, when it continues to host objectionable, and possibly dangerous, content like this. Just because Facebook may consider itself the only game in town doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be held to certain standards of decency let alone its own terms of service barring such material.