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Facebook clarifies rules about what you can and can’t post: What you need to know

Joerg Koch / The Canadian Press

TORONTO – Facebook has updated its community standards in order to provide more clarity on the content it allows on its service. The changes include a clarified stance on a number of high-profile issues, including hate speech and what names users are able to use on their profiles.

In a blog post linking to the updated community standards, Facebook also specified how it determined what content should be removed from the site and provided updated numbers on government requests for information.

Although some of the language has changed in the rules, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg maintains none of the social network’s policies have changed.

“Today’s update to our Community Standards provides more detail on these policies as well as explanations and examples of what isn’t acceptable to share on Facebook. Our policies themselves aren’t changing,” read a status update posted by Zuckerberg Sunday.

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Here’s a look at some of the policies Facebook clarified:

Users have the right to use their ‘authentic identity’

Facebook’s real names policy has garnered much controversy over the last years. In 2014, the social network was forced to apologize to drag queens and the transgendered community for deleting accounts that used drag names instead of legal names.

Last month, several users claimed the social network suspended their accounts after flagging their aboriginal names as “not authentic.”

In the update, Facebook clarifies that users do not have to use their legal name in their profile, but asks that users go by their “authentic identity” – the name they choose to go by.

Facebook maintains that the real names policy is in place for security reasons.

“When people stand behind their opinions and actions with their authentic name and reputation, our community is more accountable,” reads the community standards page.

Pictures of ‘exposed buttocks’ aren’t allowed, but breastfeeding photos are

“We remove photographs of people displaying genitals or focusing in on fully exposed buttocks,” read the guidelines.

“We also restrict some images of female breasts if they include the nipple, but we always allow photos of women actively engaged in breastfeeding or showing breasts with post-mastectomy scarring. We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures and other art that depicts nude figures.”

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Breastfeeding and post-mastectomy images have been an issue for Facebook in the past.

In 2013, Facebook came under fire for removing multiple photos of post-mastectomy scars from a group called the SCAR Project, which posts portraits of young women and men healing from mastectomies, along with other groups.

Users have held multiple online protests over the removal of breastfeeding photos.

Hate speech can be shared, but only to shame the user who posted it

“Sometimes people share content containing someone else’s hate speech for the purpose of raising awareness or educating others about that hate speech,” read the guidelines.

“When this is the case, we expect people to clearly indicate their purpose, which helps us better understand why they shared that content.”

Facebook defines hate speech as content that directly attacks people based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religious affiliation, security orientation, gender or gender-identity and serious disabilities or diseases.

Posts that promote self-harm, drug use are prohibited

“We don’t allow the promotion of self-harm or suicide. We prohibit content that promotes or encourages suicide or any other type of self-harm, including self-mutilation and eating disorders,” read the guidelines.

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This update comes a few weeks after Facebook announced it was launching new tools to support users who may express thoughts of self-harm. This includes the ability for friends to flag posts where users have expressed worrisome thoughts.

“We don’t allow people to use Facebook to coordinate the use of recreational drugs.”

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