Regulations for Facebook

by Aaron Parson

Like many social media sites and Internet forums, Facebook requires its members to follow standards of acceptable content, which prohibit harassment, threats and illegal material. Some of Facebook's other rules don't follow the norm on other websites, such as Facebook's requirement to register with your real name, so read through the regulations before registering to avoid having your account disabled.

Registration and Identification

Facebook requires all members to sign up with their real names. You can only create one Facebook profile, and it must use your legal first and last name -- no symbols, titles or nicknames except those based on your actual name, such as "Bob" in place of "Robert." Facebook also prohibits children under 13 years old from signing up. Many kids ignore this rule -- more than 7.5 million in 2011, according to Consumer Reports -- but Facebook can disable an infringing account at its discretion.

Profiles and Pages

Facebook profiles are designed for individuals to talk and share their lives; using a personal Facebook Timeline for commercial activity violates the site's rules. To promote your brand, create a Page while already logged in to your personal account. You can create multiple Pages from a single Facebook profile, but you must represent a brand or organization to start its Page. If you want to create an unofficial fan site instead, start a Facebook Group.

Standards and Content

In addition to banning illegal content and spam, Facebook imposes rules on the types of material you can post. Threats, bullying, hate speech, harassment and sharing other people's private information all violate the site's rules, as do promotions or plans relating to self-harm, hard drug abuse and crimes. Facebook's rules on graphic content and nudity have a bit more leeway: Facebook allows artistic nudity and violent content in the context of news and criticism, but bans pornography and the promotion of violence. If somebody is harassing you or posting other inappropriate content on Facebook, follow the directions on the Report a Violation page (link in Resources) pertaining to the particular type of violation.

Violations and Appeals

If you violate Facebook's rules, a Facebook employee might give you a warning, temporarily block you from a particular feature or, in the worst cases, disable your account, locking you out of the site. Do not create a new account to get around a ban or to start over fresh, as doing so also violates the rules. Instead, wait out the time on your temporary block or submit an appeal to have your disabled account reinstated. Facebook cannot lift temporary blocks early. After your block expires or Facebook enables your account, read through all the site rules before posting to make sure you aren't banned again.

About the Author

Aaron Parson has been writing about electronics, software and games since 2006, contributing to several technology websites and working with NewsHour Productions. Parson holds a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash.

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