How Facebook handles speech in 'secret' groups
Guidelines against hate speech
Here's a look at how the social network handles similarly offensive material when it's posted inside the more private corners of the service, in the online gatherings known as groups.
What's a secret Facebook group
Joining a group typically requires the approval of a group administrator or an existing member.
Many such groups are public, meaning anyone can search them out, see a list of their members and browse people's posts without joining even if they're not on Facebook. Other groups are closed.
These boards show up in search, although only members can see posts and the names of other members. "Secret" groups, by contrast, aren't visible at all to outsiders; not even their names turn up in searches. Joining one requires being invited by a current member.
Not all are nefarious
For example, people discussing health matters or posting photos of their children to family members and friends often make such groups secret.
The company doesn't disclose how many of these groups are public, closed or secret.
Different rules in secret group?
Among other things, those rules forbid bullying and harassment, hate speech, glorification of violence and "cruel and insensitive" posts that target "victims of serious physical or emotional harm."
Of course, it might be easier to get away with rule-breaking posts in secret groups, although only to the same extent that someone might get away with sharing objectionable posts only with like-minded friends.
While a racist or threatening post in a secret group may be less likely to be reported by other members, Facebook has a variety of tools, including artificial intelligence, that can detect some violations anyway.
System is far from perfect
For example, while Facebook uses AI to proactively find nudity, graphic violence and terrorist propaganda and a host of other things, its systems are not sophisticated enough yet to catch nuance, context and satire.