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Facebook's No Swearing Campaign Section 182 P34b - Is This A Hoax?
A recent viral graphic purportedly from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has been getting plenty of attention.
The graphic is a simple note stating that those who swear while interacting on their Facebook accounts will receive a warning, followed by a permanent ban if the profanity continues.
However there are many inconsistencies in this message which show that it's quite obviously a hoax, possibly in relation to recent studies about the rate of profanity on Facebook.
No Swearing Campain
As of March 20/2014 we at Facebook will be launching a “No Swearing” Campain, Anyone caught using profanity will have their account locked further a pending investigation.
This due to the new laws issued by our legal department (section 182 P34b) as new advertisers have petitioned for a “cleaner” family friendly social network.
If a user continues to use profanity the account will be shut down and a permanent ban will be placed into effect immediately.
- Mark Zuckberg
Facebook community standards DO state that you can't harass, bully or go over the top with adult content. Swearing may be ok, but make sure you use it in the appropriate context to meet the Facebook community standards.
Issues With The Message
- Spelling errors: There are some obvious spelling errors in the message. For example campaign has been spelt campain
- "Laws issued by our legal department...": The legal department may issue directives, advice or rules, but Facebook is not a governing body, so would not be enacting 'laws'.
- Graphic only: Why is this message being copied and pasted or displayed in the form of a graphic? In previous changes to the site, the information has either been posted in the Facebook blog, in large messages at the top of the home account screen, or via email so that we know it's official.
- Social media isn't buzzing: If this was in fact true, you'd know about it. Every tech group and social media platform would be buzzing with this information and possible repercussions and work arounds. Currently, they're not.
- Logistically impossible: See the next section - enacting this type of rule would lead to a huge amount of work on an already overworked system, monitoring something quite difficult to fully track.
- Section 182 P34b: To date, Facebook has never used this type of format on their rules or terms of service. At most, they use a single number and letter. This sounds more like an attempt to sound official by using a scary sounding legal extract.
Logistics of Applying This New Rule
According to a new study by Mashable, almost half of Facebook walls contain some form of profanity.
With latest statistics indicating that Facebook has 1.11 billion accounts, the quoted 47% would equate to more than 500 million accounts being at risk of being closed. The question of whether acronyms such as "WTF" would also be called into question, as would using swear words on graphics. This would make people feel far too censored to openly communicate on Facebook much longer.
This would also put a huge new workload on already overworked Facebook moderators and cause an increase in paid staff, once again lowering the profit margin for a site which in recent years has started to show a decline in profits.
Chances are that at least some of the accounts closed would belong to big Facebook advertising spenders, even further cutting Facebook's profits when they took their money elsewhere.
Why Did This Hoax Start?
Following on from Mashable's study regarding the high levels of profanity on Facebook, it's quite likely that someone decided to take this issue into their own hands.
By creating a fake warning about the risks of swearing on the social media site, they may have been attempting to dissuade users from using profanity for fear of losing their accounts.
Unfortunately they didn't do a very good job!
Current Profanity Rules Already in Place
Facebook has already carefully covered the angle of profanity with rules and options for members.
- There is nothing in the rules about profanity as long as it is not used to harrass or insult someone through racism or prejudice. "It is a serious violation to attack a person based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition."
- Page owners can already block posts based on profanity, or on particular words.
- Page owners can block users from their page by age, limiting content to a certain mature age group.