To Report or Not to Report a Picture on Facebook

I was very surprised to see that the cover photo on my Flipboard Facebook page this morning was that of someone’s patient at the Emergency Room. When I saw the picture, I did shoot off a quick comment, “A gentle reminder, posting a patient’s picture without his consent is unethical.” Thankfully, the person messaged me in a few minutes and took down the picture.

I’d rather not describe the photo or why it was posted. That is not the topic for discussion. What I’d like to talk about is what happens when you report an offensive photo on Facebook. I’d contemplated doing that this morning! When you click on “Report this photo,” a pop-up window appears and it asks

  1. Yes, this photo is about me or a friend
  • I don’t like this photo of me
  • It’s harassing me
  • It’s harassing a friend.

2. No, this photo is about something else

  • Spam or scam
  • Nudity or pornography
  • Graphic violence
  • Hate speech or symbol
  • Illegal drug use
  • My friend’s account might be compromised or hacked

3. Is this your intellectual property?

Not one seemed to fit what I needed to say, that the picture violated patient confidentiality. I decided to just comment directly. I did not know what would happen  when a picture is reported and I was afraid it might take too long. Thank goodness, the picture was taken down soon after and I didn’t have to report it!

So what happens when you report a photo? This is what it says in the Facebook FAQ:

We will make every effort to review your report as quickly as we can. So long as everything appears to be in order, we will promptly remove or disable access to the content. We will also notify the user and, if requested, provide your report to the user. We will terminate repeat infringers when appropriate.

Hmm, I wonder how long that will take?

The Facebook Help Center FAQ further says

Reporting a profile (timeline), group, page, or any other content doesn’t guarantee that they or it will be removed. The Facebook community is extremely diverse. It’s possible that something could be disagreeable or disturbing to you without meeting the criteria for removal. That’s why we offer personal controls, such as the ability to quietly cut ties with or hide people, pages, and applications that offend you. Content that does violate the Facebook Terms may be removed from Facebook and (in some cases) subject to legal or other action. The person reported is not notified of the identity of the person who made the report.

I had also messaged a friend about this disturbing picture and opined that the posting of the picture pointed to a lack of sensitivity, a certain degree of callousness.  To which my friend had replied that this was not necessarily true. It is just that people have become so used to Facebook! Apparently, some people (okay, okay, the younger generation … I’m getting old 🙂 ) find it as easy as breathing to post minutiae about their lives. So the picture was just that – a documentation of an event in someone’s life. Maybe, maybe not!

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