Community Guidelines and Privacy Policies of Popular Social Media Platforms
Community guidelines are essential rules of engagement whenever communication is taking place online. From Facebook to Snapchat, social media platforms and apps depend on community guidelines and privacy policies to regulate and protect their communities. For the purpose of this analysis, community guidelines and privacy policies of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat were used as they represent four different types of social media channels.
Across these channels, the community guidelines were designed to foster the feeling of a real community. Sharing information and communicating with friends and family is encouraged, however not at the cost of offending others. Ideal community guidelines are clear, simple and easily accessible to users. Moreover, these guidelines protect these platforms from potential lawsuits as well.
The following three points appear in the guidelines of all the four chosen platforms.
Safety is of utmost importance to these platforms as without a secure environment, users will not have a fun experience on these platforms and would most likely stop using these platforms all together. Safety refers to not only protection from offensive materials, but also securing personal account information from being stolen. It also includes safety from invasion of privacy, threats, harassment and hateful speech.
Respect is another cornerstone of community guidelines. This is an important rule as online communities are made up of people from all over the world, with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. An inclusive community respect its members and their opinions. Instagram's community rules even states that posts should be "appropriate for a diverse audience".
Intellectual Property and Lawful Behavior
These apps also have a strong respect for intellectual property and encourage users to post content that they have either created/taken themselves or have the right to share online. This is essential as these apps all abide by the law, with Instagram even putting "Follow the law" in its community rules. It is crucial for these apps to protect their online communities from unlawful activities like terrorism, hate groups and organized crime.
Other Important Categories in Community Guidelines
While the three above categories form the basis of most community rules, a few subcategories include the following:
(a) No Adult Content
(b) Pursue Meaningful interactions
(c) No Spam
(d) No Impersonation
Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter all have comprehensive privacy policies that cover all of these areas and more. These platforms have provided detailed and clear information about the above stated categories. By breaking down these categories into subcategories, these apps make sure that all relevant areas of the policies have been covered. For instance, subcategories for information collected includes information about cookies, payment methods, location, device, content, usage and more.
External Partnerships That Facilitate Community Policies
Social media apps share information with external partners for "advertising, measurement and analytics services" like Google Analytics as well as with "vendors, service providers and other partners." For example, Facebook shares information with the above mentioned but also with Facebook Companies that includes Oculus, Whatsapp Inc. and Instagram LLC and with any possible new owner.
Example of external partnership to monitor community guidelines can be ConnectSafely. Snapchat and Instagram both use ConnectSafely to help oversee their community policies and to create a safe online environment for children.
While information is present on individual websites of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat on how data is shared with external partners, these websites do not share information about which external partners are used, especially for monitoring community policies. It is assumed that due to the global presence of these websites, the information about external partners might vary depending upon the region and is thus not shared publicly.