Report this: The tangled web of Facebook reporting

Looking at Facebook’s reporting system as illustrated by their “What Happens When You Report Something?” infographic, you might think you were staring at the underground subway system of New York City. With a million twists and turns and changes of direction, it does not appear that anything about reporting unfavourable content is straightforward. Although the illustration is well-designed, it is the inherent confusion of the administrative system that will leave users continuing to scratch their heads.

A couple of questions are definitely answered. For instance, Facebook does make it clear how one would deal with a hacked account or how one would deal with sexually explicit content. Here is a common situation in which the infographic provides a clear answer…

Someone posted a picture of me on Facebook with a caption that was threatening…
1. Report
2. About Something Else
3. Violence Harmful Behavior
4. Credible Threat of Violence
5. Report to Facebook

Then Facebook suggests you either message the person, unfriend them, or block them. Then if you decide to continue to go through with reporting you hit “Report.”

From that point…

It seems that three things happen at once or nearly simultaneously
• Facebook safety team is contacted
• Reportee is warned
• The Reportee post or account is disabled
• As a final word, they do mention that a Reportee can appeal a decision

It is still way too many prompts, but one can follow this long chain of action for a couple other situations such as an underage user posting pictures with alcohol use or someone threatening vandalism.


If the infographic reveals one thing, it is that Facebook is not going to do much to help you, and if they do it is going to be on their own terms.

For instance, if one goes through this maze of questions in order to seek assistance because he or she wants to hurt themselves, they end up going through about eight queries before they are instructed to call a hotline. Going through that many steps to be told to call a hotline is counterproductive. It is important to remember that children as young as thirteen are eligible to use Facebook, and that he or she may turn to Facebook if they are having suicidal thoughts because it is a place they spend a lot of time. It is a responsibility of Facebook to provide effective responses for these situations.

Another confusing element is the harassment element. For instance when choosing whether something is about “Me or a Friend” or “About Something Else” many of the following queries overlap and it might be challenging to guess which the best option is for the situation. Harassment and spam, for example, are very similar yet the way they are set up on the infographic yields very different results.

Possible Solution

It seems like the overwhelming problem with Facebook Reporting is not being able to see where your answers take you in the system and not being able to get the result you want or need. What might be the best choice is a page full of tiles that have possible violation examples and allowing the user to simply click on the situation that applies to them. This way, they do not need to make silly choices that may lead them away from their predicament. Also, the more questions the user has to answer, the more time is wasted if it ends up being the wrong query and the more manpower is wasted on the end of Facebook in addressing misplaced issues.