Facebook Complaints Information
Thursday, 19 July 2012 - 12:06pm
Tasmania Police is increasingly receiving complaints from members of the public regarding material posted on social media sites, and particularly Facebook. We would like to take the opportunity to provide advice on how to report such matters to Facebook, as police are often unable to assist.
Content complaints should generally be made to the service hosting the content. In the case of Facebook, much of the content will be accompanied by a 'Report abuse' link. Members of the public can use these links to report the offending content directly to Facebook. Alternatively complaints can be made by going to the Facebook ‘Report Abuse or Policy Violations’ page.
Facebook advises that they have hundreds of employees, in multiple locations throughout the world, to provide a 24/7 response capability to complaints made through these channels. According to Facebook, abuse complaints are normally handled within 72 hours, and the teams are capable of providing support in up to 24 different languages.
We are providing this advice as many people have an incorrect assumption that offensive online posts are criminal. However, the use of technology to undertake some conduct does not in itself create an offence. That is, if the conduct complained of would not amount to an offence if it occurred off-line, then it is not an offence simply because in a particular instance it was undertaken with the aid of digital technology.
“For example, complaints have been received about comments posted on Facebook which are unwanted, annoying or obnoxious. If this behaviour occurred in a public place it would not be something we would investigate or prosecute,” said Acting Inspector Luke Manhood.
This does not mean there is nothing that can be done about such behaviour, just that the police are not the appropriate avenue to report it.
“It is not the role of Tasmania Police to censor Internet content. Police are only able to take action to remove content where the content itself is in breach of the criminal law, for example child exploitation images, and are only able to take prosecution action where the conduct is in breach of the criminal law,” said Acting Inspector Manhood.
In the case of unwanted contact, that will only be in serious instances; usually where the behaviour can objectively be assessed as likely to cause the recipient to be fearful, or where it is assessed that intervention is required to prevent a situation escalating to violence.
“Matters involving threats to physical safety should always be reported to police, while less serious complaints should usually be directed to the content host in the first instance,” said Acting Inspector Manhood.
More information on what happens after a report is made to Facebook is available on the Facebook ‘What Happens After You Click Report’ page.