Earlier this week it was rumored that the social media giant, Facebook, will be changing its policy concerning bans for violating community standards.
In the past users who were reported and found guilty of violating the content-sharing policies were subject to bans of various lengths, depending on the offense and history of the offender. They typically ran a day, a few days, a week or a whole month for the most blatant violations by repeat offenders. A banned user is able to sign into Facebook, view content and use the instant messenger; while they are unable to post or interact (like, react or comment) on feeds, timelines, pages and groups. The sentences lasted the ascribed calendar period regardless of whether you continued to use Facebook or not. But that might be about to change.
The rumors indicate that the new ban policy will require offenders to serve their sentences in actual site time. This means that if you were to be banned for twenty four hours, you would actually have to be on Facebook for twenty four hours before the ban is lifted. And faking it will not be an option, as new retinal scanning and facial recognition software will track your viewing to make sure that you are actually using Facebook for the entire time spent fulfilling your obligations. That new software, purportedly, will ask your permission to remain active during the ban, but will grant the option of shutting it off after your time has been served. It is also expected that ban duration will shorten from hours to days.
There will however be one exception to your ability to interact on Facebook during your period of punishment. The leaked information suggests that you will still be able to like, comment on and share advertisements and sponsored posts. This is good news for content contributors who pay to get their posts seen. Even more speculation hints that this will allow Facebook to get more data on the emotional states of its users in response to specific content and situations, especially if it is being analyzed by the retinal and facial software. That means more effective marketing, more ad sales and more profits for Facebook. At the same time, critics worry that it is yet another move nudging of the social media juggernaut into the realms of Orwellian surveillance, social conditioning and control.
Reduced time for ‘good behavior’ is also mentioned in the allegations, although what constitutes that behavior has not been specifically stated. It could mean reporting other users, meeting a quotient for interacting with paid content, or just meeting your banned viewing requirements in a timely manner. Or anything else.
No official statements have yet been made verifying these rumors, so for now, they are only that. But given the history and nature of Facebook, it is not unlikely that the social media kingpin will use the combination of its power and peoples dependency to apply increasingly Draconian measures in the future. And there can be little doubt that the actual motivation is not upholding its non-democratic community standards, but of increasing its bottom line at the further expense of its users/content providers.