Posted 18th March 2015 | By Ean Faragher, Operations Director

There have been a lot of changes on the social network behemoth since the turn of the year and this blog is an attempt to collate some of those changes and offer advice or explanation of what they mean. 

Facebook at Work

facebookatwork

The latest product from Facebook hasn’t officially been launched but does pose an interesting option for businesses or companies looking to create a private social network.

Essentially a company signs up to have a network and then their employees are able to create an ‘at work’ account that is visible only on this network – they can even use the same login details as their existing Facebook account, with their two profiles remaining firmly separate (no chance of cross contamination – no need to worry about that embarrassing photo appearing on your work profile). The aim is that this then becomes an excellent collaboration tool – it also offers a great platform for company wide announcements and sharing content with colleagues.

The biggest advantage is that it’s highly likely that employees use Facebook already so there’s no need to train staff and they are already comfortable in the environment – that can only be a good thing for staff take-up.

The biggest disadvantage – Facebook’s already existing privacy concerns. How much of the content on Facebook at work do you own, a particular concern if sharing information that shouldn’t be in the public domain.

Facebook at Work is currently being piloted and is “invitation-only” if you are interested then you can sign up here (https://www.facebook.com/help/contact/827299783957064)

Privacy Policy change

privacybasics

Facebook updated their privacy policy in January – and this time it’s forever, no backsies and it’s super simple to understand…just like the last one, and the one before that.

I sometimes wonder if Facebook’s policy with privacy changes is to do it so frequently that eventually everyone gets used to it happening and doesn’t really act on it – I expect the next FB privacy update to include the clause that gives them naming rights to your first born but even the privacy experts will be so lackadaisical about a new update it won’t get spotted and we’ll be subject to a future of all children being named Zuck.

I’m not going to run through the changes as they’re not actually as drastic as previous changes. Being honest this might actually be the first privacy policy update that doesn’t change much, it’s more a centralisation of previous changes and offers a useful tool to explain exactly what you’re sharing and how you're sharing it.

Ultimately all you need to know is that, if you want to use Facebook, you play by Facebook’s rules - if you're not paying for the service you are the product. And Facebook's rules are ‘we decide what’s private’. Back when Facebook started very little was open to the wider public, over the course of a decade we’ve reached a point where keeping your Facebook profile private is impossible, even if you keep up with all of the privacy changes and lock down all of your posts there’s no guarantee that this won’t change in the future. And anyway, your name is still searchable to the general public and there’s no way to turn that off.

So, be sensible on social media and don’t share anything you’d be embarrassed to be public or anything you’re afraid of losing and you'll be fine.

Facebook takedown guidelines

comunitystandards

Hot on the heels of the privacy update came the community standards update. And a bit like the privacy policy update, nothing’s changed. Again Facebook are trying to simplify their current approach to moderation by making public exactly what is and isn’t allowed – they’re publishing their moral compass and it makes for interesting reading (all 2,500 words of it…I don't think Facebook know what simple means).

Previously they had used blanket terms to explain what wasn’t allowed, things like pornography and terrorism were banned. But they led to confusion when things like breast-feeding photos were banned and discussions around terrorist action were removed because one person had commented with a pro stance.

So Facebook has always banned ‘images of female breasts, if they include the nipple’ – only now we know the reason some breast feeding photos were banned rather than assuming it was down to the commonly held belief that Zuckerberg must have had a terrible experience breast feeding.

Likewise, a photo ‘focusing on fully exposed buttocks’ will be removed – bad luck Kim, you may break our internet but you will never break our Facebook! (apologies for the gratuitous Braveheart reference).

Even text about sexual acts with ‘vivid text may be removed' – sorry Cosmo, those ‘21 great tips that will make your man love you more’ are going to be banned from being shared on the largest social network in the world. And if you believe that then you probably don’t understand how Facebook makes money (notice this one says 'may be removed' and not 'will be removed')! But if you're a sex therapist and you want to share detailed text about an approach or technique that will help your patients then chances are it's going to get removed (unless you're willing to pay!). 

Hate speech is also now allowed on Facebook – but only if you can show that you are actively disagreeing with it. Videos with graphic violence are still allowed – and there’s no way for the sharer to tag this content as graphic, which, with the new auto-play feature means you can be several seconds into a video like the burning alive of Moasz al-Kasasbeh by ISIS before realising what it is (speaking from personal experience).

Bearing in mind anyone over the age of 14 can hold a Facebook profile which is likely to cause more impact – a video showing graphic violence or a woman’s nipple? The beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians or Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction?

Where it gets confusing is that now photo’s of ‘women actively engaged in breast feeding’ (can you be actively unengaged when breast feeding?) and photos of breasts with post-mastectomy scarring will always be allowed. So the rules are flexible and even breakable if you have enough cash – which puts Facebook back exactly where they started with a set of rules that aren’t clear and easily manipulated.

Being creepy on Facebook can potentially be hilarious

As a little sign off I’m going to send you to this article to discover how you can freak people out on Facebook (and likely, in real life) with just a few very simple tricks.

And then maybe follow it up with this article and do it on their twitter account too, just to mess with them a little bit more.

Written by Ean Faragher 

At ExtraMile we try to take an hour out each week to look around us at what others do and to gain inspiration and to admire people's creativity. Each post in this series is one staff member's take on the world of web, design and things online. We hope you enjoy it.

Ean

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