Last week, I fell down a Facebook rabbit-hole. Nothing terribly unusual; I’m sure you know how it works… Read a post, follow a link, click a shared picture, see a link for a group, click on that…
Soon enough, you realise you’re browsing the public parts of a group you’d never, ever join. Your disbelief grows… this group has hundreds of members! It’s sickening because it’s a hate-group. Then you see an image. Keeping in mind that Facebook is open to kids as young as 13 (no doubt some even younger who fudge their dates of birth- with or without parental permission) you decide to report it. Why? It’s an image of a man with a knife, posing above 5 severed human heads.
I wish I was joking.
Several hours later, you received a response:
See their little disclaimer? The bit where they say they’ve restricted such content? There’s a term for that line there: Bullshit. I logged out of Facebook and googled the group. Without even being logged in to Facebook, I can view the image I reported. There’s no context to the picture; no explanation. I don’t know who the man with the knife is; I don’t know if he was responsible for the severed heads in front of him. What I do know is that the image has the potential to be hugely distressing for anyone that stumbles across it and despite it clearly violating Facebook’s guidelines, they won’t remove it.
This is the same Facebook that repeatedly removed images of breastfeeding- women had to fight for them to change their guidelines to be able to share such pictures and yet it still happens. Facebook has also removed pictures of birth, pictures of breast cancer survivor’s chests, pictures of gay couples kissing and even once banned a picture of an elbow.
Yes. An elbow.
In the same week that Facebook told me that hate groups and severed head pictures are ok (along with several friends who also reported it), Facebook removed a link shared by another blogger, Tune into Radio Carly.
The website she had shared was Herself.com, which has just been launched by actor and feminist Caitlin Stasey. Yes, there’s nudity. There is also diversity, beauty and a focus on the subject’s thoughts and not just her body; it features a few images coupled with a really in-depth interview from a strong, female-oriented perspective. As Carly says, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea- but to each their own, right?
I get that Facebook has certain rules around nudity. I even looked them up while writing this. Did Carly’s share violate the rules? Well, the preview image showed a naked female form, in the distance. So I guess, technically, it did. But I have to say- I agree with Carly. I know, from personal experience, that there are FAR more outrageous things on Facebook. From the offensive to the brutal, the insulting to the discriminatory- I can think of much worse that a bit of bare body- something we all have, anyway.
I have a daughter who is itching to be 13, old enough for her own profile. Her seeing a bit of skin is pretty low on my list of worries when it comes to social networking- especially while my “community standards” are so different from Facebook’s!