Facebook has developed a set of Community Standards that outline what type of content is not allowed and can be reported and requested to be removed. Here are the categories included in the guidelines:
Facebook says it does not tolerate any form of bullying and harassment, including threats to releasing personally identifiable information, unwanted malicious contact, target cursing, or claims about romantic involvement, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
When evaluating abusive behavior, Facebook distinguishes between public figures and private individuals, arguing they allow “critical commentary” of people who have a large public audience. On Facebook, “public figures can include celebrities, athletes, bands, politicians, journalists and creators”. While the blue badge on their Page or profile means that this is an authentic Page or profile, keep in mind that not all public figures have blue badges.
“For public figures, we remove attacks that are severe as well as certain attacks where the public figure is directly tagged in the post or comment. For private individuals, our protection goes further: we remove content that’s meant to degrade or shame, including, for example, claims about someone’s sexual activity”, says Facebook.
Sharing and re-sharing posts of certain abusive content may be allowed if it is clear that the purpose is “to condemn or draw attention to bullying and harassment.”
(Do you want to know how other social media platforms like Instagram or Twitter are responding to online harassment? Check out our Social Media Safety Guides.)
After receiving a report, moderators evaluate each case to determine if it violates Facebook’s Community Standards. If so, the platform removes the content and warns the person who posted it. Facebook may also temporarily block the person from using some features on the platform (e.g., sending messages, tagging things, uploading photos). If the abuse continues, Facebook could increase the amount of time they’re blocked from using features or, in some cases, remove their accounts altogether.
Facebook uses automated tools to identify abusive behavior, but in its biannual Community Standards Enforcement Report, published in May 2020, they highlight that “using technology to proactively detect bullying and harassment can be more challenging than other violation types” so in those cases, they tend to rely more heavily on human review.
Facebook is one of the platforms with the highest incidents of harassment. According to a survey on online harassment in the U.S, conducted by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), of all citizens who were harassed online, 77 percent reported that at least some of their harassment occurred on this platform. Facebook has also faced criticism for not addressing the vast proliferation of hate and abusive behavior on the platform.
Facebook has been accused by civil rights groups and different sectors of failing to take sufficient steps to stop the spread of hateful and abusive content on its platform. The social media company has said it has been improving its automated technology for identifying images and text and increasing the number of moderators to combat hate speech.
In a May 2020 report, Facebook announced that between January and March 2020, they deleted a record number of hate speech posts with 9.6 million taken down compared to 5.7 million in the prior period.
But criticism against Facebook intensified at the beginning of June 2020 during protests against police brutality in the U.S. and especially after Facebook refused to take no enforcement action against a series of posts by President Donald Trump following the killing of George Floyd, including one that warned “looting” would lead to “shooting”. Even though Facebook rules say speech that inspires or incites violence is not allowed, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that social media companies should not be “arbiters of truth.”
“Personally, I have a visceral negative reaction to this kind of divisive and inflammatory rhetoric. … But I’m responsible for reacting not just in my personal capacity but as the leader of an institution committed to free expression”, wrote Zuckerberg. The episode led to an ad boycott which was joined by more than 300 advertisers.
Facebook has said it is giving people more control over how others interact with their posts. The platform has introduced new ways for people to hide or delete multiple comments at once. Facebook has also been testing ways to more easily search for and block offensive words from appearing in comments.
Remember that, in any case, it is always important to document and take screenshots of the episode of harassment, as this could be useful in any future investigation. If you feel you’re in immediate danger, contact the police or your local authorities.
If you are being harassed on Facebook, the first thing you should do is report the episode to the platform. The best way to report abusive content is by using the Report link that appears near the content itself. Here are some examples of the content you can report:
After reporting, you should consider other options to protect yourself, including ‘unfriend’ or remove people from your profile or ‘block’ them to prevent them from starting chats and messages with you, adding you as a friend, and viewing things you share on your Timeline. Be aware that blocking can mask threads, and one of the concerns is making risk assessment more difficult. If you’re scared for your physical and mental safety, consider getting a trusted friend or family member to monitor your account instead. You could also control who you interact with. The Facebook Help Center explains how you can control who reaches your inbox, how to block messages, or how to ignore a conversation.
If you’re under 18 and someone’s putting pressure on you that’s sex-related, Facebook recommends contacting local law enforcement or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children using the CyberTipline at cybertip.org or 1-800-843-5678. They have advisers available 24/7 to help.
If this person is a relative or someone in your household and you need help, contact local law enforcement, go to the National Sexual Assault Hotline online or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
To report a post:
If you’re having trouble reporting something, Facebook recommends log in from a computer and use the report links.
You can also block the person who posted this content on your timeline, hide from the timeline, or eliminate.
A member of Facebook’s support team will review your report and determine whether it violates Facebook Community Standards and if it should be removed or not. You can always check the status of your report in the Support Inbox. You will receive updates there once they’ve reviewed it. In its policies, Facebook reminds us that reporting something doesn’t guarantee that it will be removed.
Facebook lets the person whose content has been reported know that a report has been made, but they do not let the person know who reported them. However, in some cases, when a message conversation is between just two people or a back-and-forth on a comment thread, the person who was reported may be able to guess or make assumptions about who reported them.
Right now, the best way to ensure that Facebook investigates the abuse is to report each instance separately. If an account has been set up to impersonate you or if an entire Page, Group, or Event has been set up to harass you, you can report the whole account, Page, Group, or Event instead of each individual piece of content.
Yes. You can always check the status of your report in the Support Inbox and Facebook notifies and updates you there once they have reviewed it.
If you feel like your case wasn’t handled adequately, you should try to report it again. If a mistake is made and Facebook reverses its decision, they will update you in the Support Inbox.
Additionally, you should encourage your friends and family to report the harassment because more reports make it more likely that Facebook will take it down.
Finally, keep in mind that you are not alone in the struggle, and there is a community on Right To Be’s Storytelling platform ready to support you – visit this page to request help. If you feel you are in danger, consider finding legal support and report it to your local authorities as soon as possible.
Check out our resources to find tips on what to do if you experience online harassment.
Anyone can report abuse on Facebook. If you see a friend or family member being bullied or harassed, you can report someone on their behalf via the menu above the post that you are concerned about.
Facebook says that there are some cases, though, like name-calling and impersonation, where having the person being targeted report the content is helpful in providing additional context.
If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can report a violation of Facebook Terms with this form. You will be asked to indicate the type of abuse, which may include:
Facebook also has forms in their Help Center for special report types like accounts of children under the age of 13 and suicidal content.
This is what Facebook has established in its policies:
If you’re under 18, it is important to talk with a parent, teacher, school counselor, or other adults you trust.
In this guide, you can find key definitions you might need when talking to a lawyer and/or law enforcement.
If you can’t find someone using this method, you can go to the person’s profile and selecting Block from the menu on their cover photo. Keep in mind that people will not be notified when you block them.
Besides blocking, there are other ways to control who can see things you post on your Timeline. Learn more about your Privacy Settings.
People you block can no longer:
Yes. Blocking allows you to prevent any interactions with someone on Facebook, but you may still encounter content they’ve shared. Here’s what you might seem according to Facebook’s policies:
Mutual friend stories:
You can change your settings to prevent anyone from posting on your Timeline. You could also adjust your filters preference to control what types of messages arrive in your inbox. You could also activate ‘Message requests’ which is a tool that tells you when someone you’re not friends with on Facebook has sent you a message.
Our self-care guide will provide you with some tips that will help you to feel better.
To report an abusive message:
To block messages from someone:
iPhone and iPad:
According to Facebook:
When you’re added to a group conversation that includes the person you’ve blocked, you’ll be notified before you enter the conversation. If you choose to enter the group conversation, you’ll able to see their messages and they’ll be able to see yours in that conversation.
You can use your Privacy Settings to control who gets to see your posts and timeline. (Learn more here) To get to your privacy settings, click Account at the top of any page and select Privacy Settings in the dropdown menu that appears. From there, you can specify privacy for a specific message or post, and control how much information you share.
Facebook also offers a number of security features that help keep your personal information private, including remote logout, secure browsing, log-in approvals, and more. You can find these features on your Account Settings page, in the Account Security section.
Our Technical Safety Guide also offers information on how to increase your digital security.
Facebook partners with safety organizations around the world and offers resources to its users. Below are two examples:
They also include these resources in their Guidelines:
You can also explore Right To Be’s tools and our Online Harassment resources and learn how other social media platforms are responding to online harassment here.