Facebook told to redefine nudity rules to be more trans-inclusive by Meta oversight board

Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg speaks during an event.

Facebook’s owner Meta has been urged to change its rules on adult nudity following the removal of two pictures of trans people.

The independent governing body, Oversight Board, overturned a decision by Meta to remove the pictures of a bare-chested transgender couple in a post discussing gender-affirming healthcare.

The board wrote on Tuesday (17 January) that it decided to overturn the removal following a review – prompted by numerous reports from users – that found Meta’s decision was “not in line” with its community standards.

The first case was reportedly marked for human review twice after it was believed to violate the company’s adult nudity and sexual activity policy.

The second case was also reported for review after several users flagged the content to an automated system that found the images could have violated the same policy.

Individuals walk past the sign pointing towards Meta's offices.
Meta has 60 days to respond to the recommendations. (Getty)

The review also touched upon Meta’s sexual solicitation policy, which prohibits images containing female nipples, unless they are used in the context of breastfeeding or gender-confirmation surgery.

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“Meta’s internal guidance to moderators on when to remove content under the sexual solicitation policy is far broader than the stated rationale for the policy, or the publicly available guidance,” the report’s key findings read.

“This creates confusion for users and moderators and, as Meta has recognised, leads to content being wrongly removed.”

It added that the policy, which aims to prohibit “sexually explicit language that may lead to sexual solicitation”, was based on a “binary view of gender” that it urged the company to rectify.

“The board has consistently said Meta must be sensitive to how its policies impact people subject to discrimination,” it continued. “Here, the board finds that Meta’s policies on adult nudity result in greater barriers to expression for women, trans and gender non-binary people.”

As part of its recommendations, it urged officials to “define clear, objective, rights-respecting criteria to govern its adult nudity and sexual activity community standard” so that it would treat users with equal respect.

It also urged the social media company to provide more detail on its sexual solicitation policy, so that its vagueness could not be used as an excuse to remove content that does not violate its standards.

“Meta should seek to develop and implement policies that address all these concerns,” it stated. “It should change its approach to managing nudity on its platforms by defining clear criteria.

“It should also examine whether the adult nudity and sexual activity policy protects against non-consensual image sharing and whether other policies need to be strengthened in this regard.”

Meta has 60 days to respond to the ruling with an action plan explaining how it will implement the board’s recommendations.

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