Facebook bizarre secretive No sex crushed head graphic leak
No sex, but crushed heads are OK. Leaked Facebook document reveals website's secretive and bizarre 'graphic content' policy
Last updated at 12:56 AM on 22nd February 2012
A former employee who used to filter out offensive content on Facebook has leaked the website's secret rulebook, which gives astonishingly detailed instructions that include blocking mild nudity but allowing images of death and disfigurement, as well as racially charged comments.
An aggrieved Moroccan worker who was paid a mere $1 an hour by oDesk - a third-party content-moderation firm used by Facebook - revealed it tells staff to delete all forms of sexual activity, even simulated activity where there was nothing explicit on show.
Yet deep wounds, excessive blood and 'crushed heads, limbs etc' are allowed - 'as long as no insides are showing'.
The rules: An astonishingly detailed cheat sheet of what Facebook thinks is graphic content is handed to employees of content moderation firm oDesk. Disgruntled employee Amine Derkaoui leaked the document to Gawker.com
The staff working for oDesk are further instructed that Facebook will not condone 'slurs or racial comments of any kind', and that any such comments should be deleted as soon as possible. However, they should be allowed to stay online if the comments are made in a humourous or ironic way.
Moroccan-born Amine Derkaoui, 21, left oDesk and is clearly still very mad at his former employers and Facebook. He began training with oDesk as a moderator but missed a crucial test because of Ramadan and eventually left to become a content manager for a New York-based tech company.
In an interview with U.S. gossip website Gawker.com, Mr Derkaoui said: 'It's humiliating. They are just exploiting the third world.'
It didn't make Mr Derkaoui feel any better that Facebook just recently posted a staggering $100 billion initial public offering (IPO).
Flagged and removed: Facebook has landed in hot water in the past, having to apologise for removing a gay kiss scene from British soap opera EastEnders, above left, and being left embarrassed when they took down a relatively innocuous line drawing of a topless woman from artist Steven Assael
The 'cheat sheet' of rules are part of a larger 17-page guidebook given to oDesk by Facebook, providing advice for employees on what to do when screening photographs, text and videos that have been 'flagged' for removal by one of Facebook’s 850 million users.
Facebook runs community guidelines on its own site, but they are perhaps purposefully vague when compared to the crystal clear instructions given to oDesk employees.
Online, Facebook says that it wants to share people's lives, but draws the line at 'inappropriately graphic content' - leaving the user to draw his or her conclusions as to what is considered too graphic.
At oDesk, nothing is left to the imagination. Urine, faeces, vomit, semen and - strangely - ear wax are not allowed.
'Lactivists': Mothers and supporters gathered outside the Facebook offices in Austin, Texas, to protest Facebook's decision to persistently remove pictures of breastfeeding mothers from its site
'Versus photos' - where users are asked to rate photos of people set side-by-side - are also prohibited, as are pictures of unconscious or sleeping drunk people with 'things drawn on their faces'.
Yet it is acceptable to leave up footage of children physically assaulting each other at school (unless 'the video has been posted to continue tormenting the person targeted in the video').
Showing perhaps that the Facebook HQ is in California, depictions or text of illegal drug use must be deleted - unless it's about marijuana.
Even so, marijuana enthusiasts should be removed if it is 'clear that the poster is selling/buying/growing'.
Secretive: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, seen here at the Dallas Mavericks and New York Knicks game in Madison Square Gardens, New York, has always had a secretive stance on Facebook policy
The fallout from the leak has so far been limited.
Despite Facebook's secretive stance on its censorship policy, most users were more worried about the website passing their details on to third parties.
It forced Facebook to issue the statement: 'In an effort to quickly and efficiently process the millions of reports we receive every day, we have found it helpful to contract third parties to provide precursory classification of a small proportion of reported content.
'These contractors are subject to rigorous quality controls and we have implemented several layers of safeguards to protect the data of those using our service.'
California-based oDesk was launched full-scale in 2005 by co-founders Odysseas Tsatalos and Stratis Karamanlakis.
It provides content moderation services to Google and Facebook, Wikipedia and AOL.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Facebook isn't mentioned on oDesk's back-patting website.
A team of about 50 people from all over the third world - Mexico, Turkey, India and the Philippines - working to moderate Facebook content.
Mr Derkaoui said they worked from home and in 4-hour shifts for $1 per hour plus commissions (which took them marginally higher to around $4 per hour).
Mr Derkaoui said there was no mention of Facebook when he was applying for his job and his managers at oDesk never explicitly said the social networking site was their client.
Facebook bizarre secret sex leak graphic
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