All companies make mistakes, of course. But some mistakes are so mystifying, they force us to ask who signed off on them. Today’s case in point: Facebook reportedly gave users a survey this weekend with some very inappropriate questions, including one that asked about the appropriateness of soliciting sexual images from minors.
“There are a wide range of topics and behaviors that appear on Facebook,” the question asked. “In thinking about an ideal world where you could set Facebook’s policies, how would you handle the following: a private message in which an adult man asks a 14-year-old girl for sexual pictures.”
And asked this … and I’m like, er wait it making it secret the best Facebook can offer here? Not, y’know, calling the police? pic.twitter.com/t2UZuKalfk
— Jonathan Haynes (@JonathanHaynes) March 4, 2018
Possible answers to this multiple-choice question include “this content should not be allowed on Facebook, and no one should be able to see it,” as well as, “this content should be allowed on Facebook, and I would not mind seeing it.”
A follow-up question asked who should be deciding the rules on this sort of behavior, somehow omitting the fact that asking children for sexual photos is illegal.
A VP of product at Facebook tweeted that the survey question was a mistake, adding that the company runs surveys “to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies.”
We run surveys to understand how the community thinks about how we set policies. But this kind of activity is and will always be completely unacceptable on FB. We regularly work with authorities if identified. It shouldn’t have been part of this survey. That was a mistake.
— Guy Rosen (@guyro) March 4, 2018
A Facebook spokesperson told the Guardian, “We understand this survey refers to offensive content that is already prohibited on Facebook and that we have no intention of allowing so have stopped the survey.”
That still leaves the question: Who wrote this question to begin with?