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Facebook Clarifies Rules on Banned Content

“Having a voice is not some absolute state. It’s not the case that you either have a voice or you don’t."

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Facebook Inc clarified its rules banning certain content from its social network, as the Internet company strives to curb controversial posts such as support for violent militant groups and nudity without damaging its status as a global hub for users to share information.

The 1.39 billion-member social network updated its “community standards” late Sunday, providing specific examples of content prohibited under its general rules against direct threats, hate speech and criminal activity.

While Facebook has long forbidden groups it deems to be terrorist organizations from posting content on its service, the company specified that it will remove content that expresses support for such groups or praises their leaders.

Facebook also made clear that images “shared in revenge or without permission,” often referred to as “revenge porn,” are forbidden. But photos of women breastfeeding, post-mastectomy scarring and images of paintings and sculptures with nude figures are permissible.

The clarification comes as social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter Inc grapple with self-regulating technology that is as easily used for harassment and online bullying as it is for sharing sports videos and news articles.

“Having a voice is not some absolute state. It’s not the case that you either have a voice or you don’t,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a post on his Facebook page on Sunday.

Zuckerberg said Facebook was not actually changing any of its policies or standards, but merely providing more guidance.

“People rightfully want to know what content we will take down, what controversial content we'll leave up, and why,” Zuckerberg wrote.

Images of graphic violence and nudity have long been problematic for Facebook.

In 2013, Facebook said it would use a broader set of criteria to determine when gory videos are permitted on the site after a video of a masked man beheading a woman in Mexico prompted an outcry. The company has also been criticized for allowing pages that glorify violence against women.

Militant groups such as Islamic State have increasingly used social media to spread their message.

Facebook also said on Sunday that it recorded a slight increase in government requests for account data in the second half of 2014.

Requests for account data increased to 35,051 in the second half of 2014 from 34,946 in the first half, with requests from countries such as India rising and those from others, including the United States and Germany, falling.

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