'Facebook jail' rules loosened as company promises to explain why posts were removed before suspending or banning users

'Facebook jail' rules loosened as company promises to explain why posts were removed before suspending or banning users
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  • Facebook will now remove posts and explain why up to seven times before suspending or banning users.
  • The new policy is the result of analysis and feedback from Meta's independent Oversight Board.

Facebook soon will provide more explanation to users who have posts removed before throwing them in "Facebook jail," parent company Meta announced Thursday.

"Facebook jail," a term minted by Facebook users and used on other social media, refers to a suspension or ban for posting about controversial topics, or violating platform rules.

Following feedback from Meta's Oversight Board, an independent group formed in 2019 that advises Meta, Facebook will now explain to users multiple times why their posts were removed before leveling harsher penalties like suspending their ability to post.

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The goal is to prevent users from innocently making the same mistake repeatedly. Under the prior system a single mistake could have gotten them suspended with little to no explanation.

"Our analysis has found that nearly 80% of users with a low number of strikes do not go on to violate our policies again in the next 60 days," Monika Bickert, vice president of content policy, wrote in the announcement. "This means that most people respond well to a warning and explanation since they don't want to violate our policies."


The new policy will allow up to seven less severe strikes before more serious penalties against the user. Bickert wrote that this system will stop relatively innocent posts from immediately leading to 30-day posting bans, which the Oversight Board said has unfairly impacted many users.

While the bulk of the new policy will affect users who break rules accidentally, the announcement also covers how the company will handle more severe violations.

Posts that include content like "terrorism, child exploitation, human trafficking, suicide promotion, sexual exploitation, the sale of non-medical drugs or the promotion of dangerous individuals and organizations" still will lead to harsh consequences, including suspensions and account bans.

The Oversight Board wrote in a response that it welcomed the changes, but still believes Meta could do more to improve policies. The Board said that journalists and activists can be hit mistakenly by the severe consequences when discussing sensitive topics, largely without explanation from Facebook.

"That's why the Oversight Board has asked for greater transparency on 'severe strikes' and will continue to do so," the statement reads. "The Board also believes users should be able to explain the context of their post when appealing to Meta, and that context should be taken into account by content reviewers where possible."