Why Facebook Censorship is a Big Issue

| March 10, 2014 | 39 Comments

Facebook Censorship Is Worse Than Ever. Here’s Why We Should Care

The Issues with Facebook Censorship

Facebook Censorship – In honor of its 10th anniversary this year, Facebook added a feature where users could generate a video slideshow of their photos and posts from their timeline (profile), starting from when they joined. The resulting videos are sappy productions that remind us all how (too) much of our lives are documented via Facebook.

facebook censorship nudity naked stgmb

Beheading videos get to stay, but THIS gets censored?

So, having a like-hate relationship with Facebook, I decided to create a parody. There were already quite a few of these parodies popping up—bible style, Walter White from Breaking Bad, privacy / game request parody etc. But mine had a different angle. I used it to protest my own endlessly disruptive issue with Facebook—censorship! The video is a slideshow of some images that got me banned on the social network. It was also the perfect thing to represent my new project – “Shit That Got Me Banned (From Facebook)” ( #STGMB ). I created the STGMB blog for the purpose of sharing content and photos that got me and others banned from Facebook, while also providing a platform for us all to rant about their draconian censorship policies.

My video:

Facebook Look Back at the Shit That Got Me Banned from Young Naturists on Vimeo.

Just a few hours after I posted my Facebook Look Back video on YouTube, it got taken down for violating their policy on “nudity and sexuality.” I guess they are really as bad as Facebook! If you use YouTube at all, you would see that it makes absolutely no sense for them to censor this video. It’s pretty ironic that they censored my protest of censorship, though I suppose it helped prove my point. After all it wasn’t censored for the graphic violence, was it? The gun and blood photo must’ve been A-OK with them.

YouTube Censorship Parody of My FB Censorship Protest:

Back to Facebook censorship. It is pretty much the worst social network to be on if you’re a naturist. But it’s not just naturists that get banned. The censorship is so wildly inconsistent that you can pretty much get banned for anything, even if Facebook makes official statements that such-and-such content is allowed. Their ambiguous “community standards” are a joke because not even Facebook follows them. The Third World employees who moderate the site for $1/hr all seem to censor based on how they feel at that moment. Whoever these people are, they’re definitely not following the same guidelines.

facebook censorship community standards nudity

There’s no point in “reviewing” all the community standards because the above text is about as detailed as it gets.

Take breastfeeding and mastectomy photos, for example. Facebook has stated over and over again that these photos are allowed, but they continue to get removed. Once in a while it happens to someone with enough clout for it to make the news. When that happens, a reporter reaches out to Facebook and FB apologizes, stating that they occasionally make an error. HAHAHA that would be so funny, Facebook, if it didn’t actually happen ALL THE TIME. It’s just that most of us plebeians don’t have the wherewithal to get in the news, or reach an actual person at Facebook.

Which brings us to another problem. There’s basically no appeal process. The appeal option (if you can find it) seems to be there just for show. It’s near impossible to reach any actual employee.

Anyway I have found that while complaining about getting banned for the umpteenth time, someone eventually asks: “If you hate Facebook so much, why keep using it? They are a private company so they can make their own rules and apply them as they wish.”

If only it were that simple. Facebook is a massive empire, proclaiming 1.23 billion active monthly users. Although there was a notable decline in popularity among teenage users, it is still, unfortunately, the place to be in terms of social media. It plays an integral role in people’s everyday social lives. It’s where they find community and connect with so many friends and family. Telling someone to just quit FB is basically like telling them to give up email. A Pew research study found that 71% of online adults use Facebook as of September 2013.

For businesses, organizations, and the like, nowhere else can people interact with and reach such a large following online as they can on FB. There is no alternative (yet) quite like it. To tell a business to just quit and leave might be asking them to simply cut ties with 70,000+ fans, clients and potential customers. Can you think of any major company that’s not on Facebook? For YNA, we use Facebook frequently for getting our content out there, networking, promoting events and doing grassroots outreach for naturism. For me it’s a main point of contact; tons of people reach out to me through the network every single day!

Facebook’s role in people’s lives, its ubiquity and massive user base bestow upon it a greater social responsibility. Its far-reaching influence means that it does matter what they allow and what they censor. A New York Times article has an astute quote from law professor Jeffrey Rosen: “Facebook has more power in determining who can speak and who can be heard around the globe than any Supreme Court justice, any king or any president.”

With their censorship practices, they promote our culture’s glorification and acceptance of violence, while condemning art, self-expression and healthy representations of the human body. Their censorship of breastfeeding photos is degrading to women and perpetuates the stigma against public breastfeeding. They also perpetuate many double standards, like that of male and female nudity—the male chest is fine while a female nipple is unacceptable. Of course female breasts are still all over the network in the context of soft-core porn (just with that small bit of areolae covered up).

facebook censorship breastfeeding porn nipples nudity women

[Click to enlarge]

Speaking of porn on Facebook, it’s everywhere. I know because I see it every day (while looking through others’ profiles). This is another sign that Facebook’s censorship system just doesn’t work! I feel it is time for them to stop pretending it does!

Facebook’s current mission statement is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. People use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them.” Facebook prides itself on being this open collective communication space, and many of us see it that way. And yet…they are still a corporation that makes decisions every day with regards to what content we can and can’t engage with. Instead of favoring free speech, they decided to play censor. It is very challenging for a website of this magnitude to apply such censorship consistently. Even when you write up a list of ridiculous guidelines.

Facebook should really just give up the crazy censorship and make free speech the default. I envision an open, collective space as one in which we all get to exchange ideas and content without being at the mercy of one offended user or a corporation’s idea of what they may deem obscene.

The good news (sort of) is that we users do matter, and we can hold them accountable. Why? 1. Because without us, the users, there is no Facebook. And 2. Because Facebook is not exactly free. Its advertising revenue relies on us (as users and advertisers) seeing those ads that appear in news feeds and on the sides of pages.

We have also “paid” through illegal access to our private information and probably will again in the future.

So what can we do about it? Make our voices heard, both on and off Facebook. Submit banned content to STGMB, where we can all mock and call out Facebook for removing the most harmless Internet content. I think we should keep submitting complaints to FB too…can’t guarantee that any humans read them, but if enough of us keep at it then maybe our collective voice will, at some point, get heard. But we can’t do this alone!

It might also be worth noting that Facebook doesn’t allow users to encourage others to violate its policies. So you might want to give it some thought before you go trying to enact a “Day of Nude.” Maybe Facebook is not the best place for campaigns against Facebook…

There have been many petitions and campaigns against hate speech that succeeded in getting FB to revise its policies. So maybe a free speech petition is another option to consider.

There are a few alternative social networks specifically for naturists, though none match the quality and breadth of Facebook. We truly need a better alternative for everyone, but til then, looks like we are stuck dealing with fascistbook.

What do you think, readers? What else can we do about Facebook censorship? Or have some of you already given up and moved to Twitter or Tumblr?

This article about the issues with Facebook Censorship was published by Young Naturists and Nudists America YNA

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Category: Felicity's Nudist Blog, Pinky Rants, Censorship, Nudist Blogs

About the Author ()

Author of Felicity's Blog. Co-founder of Young Naturists America. 3rd-generation nudie. Avid reader. Feminist. 70% vegan, 30% vegetarian. When I'm not busy eating, I'm writing about naturism, censorship, topfree equality, body image and other fun topics. I like feedback, so plz leave a comment when you've got something to say!
  • De McClung

    Corporations are fictitious entities and do not enjoy human rights, such as the right to deny real human beings of their HUMAN rights.  Censorship for example is not allowed to corporations.  It’s against the law that governs corporations.  Corporations, unlike REAL human beings cannot claim private property rights as an excuse to deprive real human beings of their rights, like free speech, and the right to associate with whomever they please.  It is a violation of their corporate “privilege” to do business and operate a social network, i.e. FaceBook.  In other words, it is against corporate law to censor members, censor pictures, or violate ANY member’s human rights…most assuredly their right of Free Speech and posting whatever pictures they wish.  Now you know.

  • shanehrenko

    Lol classic facebook

  • SuzyQ2

    Blogspot allows just about anything.  Some of it may get slapped with an Adult Content flag, but that only means one extra click.

    Use facebook as a sort of redirector.  For example, make a simple static FB page for your naturist group which says something like:  We are a group of skinnydippers.  We invite you to learn more about how to have good clean family fun in the nude by going to skinnydippers-r-us Dot blogspot Dot com.

    Non-sexual nudity in videos is very welcome on Dailymotion.com.  Just be sure to label it as age-restricted when you upload it.  Again–a simple matter of one measly extra click to view it on the Dailymotion site.  (Unlike YouTube, they don’t demand any login.)

  • SuzyQ2

    > ” Because Facebook is not exactly free.  Its advertising revenue relies
    on us (as users and advertisers) seeing those ads that appear in news
    feeds and on the sides of pages.”
    So why aren’t you using an Ad Blocker?

  • therelybare

    With the exception of my personal Facebook account, I have one that I use to collect naturist news. I don’t share it with anyone, so that must be the reason that I don’t run afoul of the Facebook censorship rules. I use it as a holding area until I transfer it to Flipboard, which doesn’t seem to have the same hang ups, at least so far!

  • nudeinspain

    We’ve all suffered either Facebook or Google censorship. Recently we wrote a post about Amazon, which are happy enough to sell hardcore porn but won’t accept a site promoting naturism like ours (http://nudeinspain.com) as an associate. There’s still a looooong way to go!

  • Gary Mussell

    Coincidentally I am doing a story on this for our newsletter this month also.

  • All-Nudist.com

    Gleef  Age restrictions don’t make any difference.  ‘Obscene’ is obscene, to FB.

  • David4Nudist

    All-Nudist.com FelicityJones

  • Maltanudist
  • Felicity’s Blog

    yes!

  • Riles

    Gleef  I have been subjected to actual images of gory deaths.  That seems to be ok….  Just sickening, and disheartening.

  • Riles

    All-Nudist.com Riles  lol  I would say so.  ;-)

  • All-Nudist.com

    AJNFrance  You’ve just been lucky, like many on FB.  We’ve had our G+ Page blocked a few times, once AFTER removing ALL content!  The page was entirely empty and still got blocked.  Yet G+ allows pure porn…

  • All-Nudist.com

    Riles  I guess Georgia O’Keeffe paintings are out of bounds for FB!

  • All-Nudist.comYou could have a very valid point there.

    (Interesting also that your sites have a good Islamic following, mine hardly ever sees one.)

  • Gleef

    Sadly, Google+ is just as bad. 

    They do list an option for setting up a page only for users 21 and older. Perhaps that’s where nudity might be allowed, except last I checked (about a month ago), if you tried to select that, it said it’s 

    I’m also disgusted by the fact that graphic violence is apparently OK, while sharing an image of the human body is apparently not.

  • rapoport

    There are only two ways to get Facebook to change: constant (and consistent, well-organized, massive) pressure in person at their office and in non-FB media, and convincing a huge number of advertisers to drop FB. A third way is a lawsuit, for which one needs an infinite amount of money, although even launching a solid one (not over the things usually mentioned) would help to accomplish Method 1.
    Those who try to find logic or reason in Facebook’s actions, or try to justify any aspects of its ignorant, bullying censorship, are A) wasting their time; B) misguided.

  • Riles

    nudist_resorts  Whoa!  That’s freakin’ insane.

  • All-Nudist.com

    zjuzdme1  It should be noted that many FB hardcore porn pages have been reported repeatedly without repercussions.  We also note that our .com websites have a healthy following from Islamic states which disallow any sort of female undress in their own countries.
    Suggestion:  FB’s Islamic censors (Morocco), needing to meet FB censorship quotas, attack ‘innocent’ FB Pages so as to allow the ‘good’ porn pages to remain for their own personal perusal at a later time.
    Just a thought…

  • nudist_resorts

    I wrote a press release about our ongoing problems with facebook. The first site picked up the story: http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwgeeks/article/View-the-Nudist-Resort-Photos-and-Links-Posted-by-The-Terra-Cotta-Inn-Palm-Springs-California-That-Facebook-Banned-20140311#.Ux-kPM65HdU

    Unfortunately they left out the photos and links that got us banned. So here they are: http://www.terracottainnblog.com/2014/03/view-obscene-photos-and-linkes-facebook.html

  • nudist_resorts

    I wrote a press release about our ongoing problems with facebook. The first site picked up the story: http://www.broadwayworld.com/bwwgeeks/article/View-the-Nudist-Resort-Photos-and-Links-Posted-by-The-Terra-Cotta-Inn-Palm-Springs-California-That-Facebook-Banned-20140311#.Ux-kPM65HdU

    Unfortunately they left out the photos and links that got us banned. So here they are: http://www.terracottainnblog.com/2014/03/view-obscene-photos-and-linkes-facebook.html

  • Lamdba

    That’s terrible.

  • melissastarr

    I got banned from a nudist site because I noted that they had ads from a club known for swingers. Nudists can be fascists, too.

  • nudist_resorts

    I can not comment here with our Facebook account because I’m currently banned from commenting for 30 days because I posted this “pornographic” photo. I have received time outs for WRITING the words naked and nudist. Yes, writing, not even having a photo in my post. You are so right, Facebook censorship is way out of control. And it does matter as they help shape public opinion.

  • Riles

    Naturally, I agree that the censorship is out of control.  A friend once had a graphic design image of a butterfly removed because “it resembled a vagina.”  It’s didn’t look anything like a vagina… 
    But, as an escort, my colleagues are constantly getting their accounts suspended, and even deleted, for maybe showing a little nipple, or their tush in a thong. THEN, you get these random perverts, who “collect” escorts as friends, who have cock shots, and cum shots, material highly debasing to women, and all manner of porn all over their profiles and get away with it.
    Sick to death of it.

  • AJNFrance

    There is less censorship on Google+ than Facebook and our page was never blocked.

  • FB’s invasion even goes so far that they record everything you type. You don’t have to actually send it (need proof? See how they already start completing names of ‘friends’? There you go).

    The underpaid people checking all the images are often in Islamic countries, I strongly believe that they take censorship in their own (even more strict) hand instead of just following FB’s guidelines (which are well over the top.)

    And I really don’t understand why your Youtube video got removed…

  • All-Nudist.com

    FelicityJones True, but the topic here is nudity in some form or another and, specifically, that which affects nudists/naturists.

    Those others who have problems promoting their agendas, also censored by FB, are not necessarily in alliance with us.  Even breastfeeding moms and top-free advocates, though WE may support THEM, do not necessarily support OUR rights.

    Even if they did, we combined are a minuscule part of the FB membership and of no consequence.

    This is strictly a nudity issue here and no one, NO one cares about ‘our’ problem and NO one will support us to the point of affecting FB’s agenda. That would take not thousands, not millions, but tens or HUNDREDS of millions of vocal complainants demanding nudity, and that simply is not going to happen.  They don’t want it.
    In fact, those seeking porn far outnumber those who understand and appreciate simple appropriate nudity and, if anyone, would have a better chance at accomplishing that.  Reality sucks.

  • Michael Connolly

    Let’s keep up the fight Felicity! #facebookmustchange

  • edavidsanguisalas57

    Hi Felicity. As I make you notice on other times i prefer to make publicity on good sites than on bad ones like Fb. Convencing on good places than all the bad references could turn people uses. But the case of YouTube is strange because still appears a reproduction list and inside it a title I think what nudism is. This vídeo is almost asame as the one you were censored. Body painting, some naked bodies and no censorship. Maybe after all somebody named Facebook didn’t like mid finger?

  • Lamdba  All-Nudist.com yeah, by “we” I didn’t mean only self-identifying nudists / naturists. Those probably only make up a small percentage of FB as you say. “We” is more like referring to anyone who’s been pissed off by Facebook censorship – that includes artists, art museums, body painters, sex-positive activists, angry breastfeeding mothers, etc and anyone else who’d like to see changes at FB. 
    It might even include people who see a lot of crap that they don’t want to see on FB because FB also sucks at following their own censorship policies.

  • Lamdba

    It happens all the time with books. Just recently, I saw a really awesome children’s book raised to #1 on amazon.fr after some politician made a stink about it.

  • Lamdba

    On the bright side, they took a small step in the right direction recently. Now, if you have a private group, and someone reports one of your posts, not only do they give you a warning, but they even tell you who reported you.

  • All-Nudist.com

    Lamdba  Isn’t it funny that FB, by attacking valid entities, helps create positive results for those very same ‘offenders’?
    One more example of using FB’s policies against themby gaining publicity by being banned from FB! Perhaps not as effective as having a workable FB presence for promotion, but better than nothing!

  • Lamdba

    That’s not necessarily true. Recently I’ve noticed a few artists and at least one museum get some public sympathy for being censored by Facebook. Also, breastfeeding activists seem increasingly annoyed, and they enjoy pretty solid public support right now.

  • CindyNyob

    “With their censorship practices, they promote our culture’s glorification and acceptance of violence, while condemning art, self-expression and healthy representations of the human body.  Their https://youngnaturistsamerica.com/facebook-targets-breastfeeding-moms/ is degrading to women and perpetuates the stigma against public breastfeeding.  They also perpetuate many double standards, like that of male and female nuditythe male chest is fine while a https://youngnaturistsamerica.com/moobs-male-breasts-facebook-moobies/.  Of course female breasts are still all over the network in the context of soft-core porn (just with that small bit of areolae covered up). ”

    i fight them nearly every day as I try to promote events for Lupin Lodge. I have posted to STGMBFF, AND I will continue to post naturist events using the beautiful nude human body.

  • rapoport

    Great article, thorough and convincing. My only addition is that there are plenty of sites that don’t censor and/or give users the tools to determine what they see. Facebook isn’t interested in a solution to its massive problem; it wants only to play the digital world’s most dishonest and arrogant moralistic bully.

  • All-Nudist.com

    A very good article that covers many bases, but we have to disagree on one point presented here: “The good news (sort of) is that we users do matter, and we can hold them accountable.”

    It’s so unutterably wrong when those of us affected the most begin thinking like political sycophants who believe that because WE believe, EVERYONE should!  Because we’re RIGHT!  I’ll stamp my feet now to PROVE it!  That will CHANGE things!
    So wrong when it comes to FB.  Add up the FB sites that wish to feature nudity (including actual nudist/naturist Pages & excluding porn Pages) and it comes to a few hundred Pages with a following of merely thousands.  Sometimes more but certainly nowhere nearly as many FB subscribers who wish to find NO nudity of ANY sort in their news feeds.  Yuck!
    FB is a multinational corporation that spends far more each year to determine what its subscribers want to see than any insignificant monetary contribution WE make.
    Statistically, NO one wants to see us, FB makes NO money from us, and there’s NO reason (from FB’s standpoint) to accommodate us whatsoever.   And they don’t. 
    Piss, gripe and complain as much as we want, but we’re totally under FB’s radar other than via complaints from other mainstream FB users, and it’s far easier to simply punish us than deal with it intelligently.
    No, ‘we’ do NOT matter.  The billion+ whom FB has determined DON’T want to see us DO.  Unfortunately, we CAN’T ‘hold them accountable’ other than by either leaving FB or by playing by their rules while circumspectly using FB to continue to bring good information to those who need it.
    That’s the angle we’re taking.  Directing folks where we want them to go without breaking the rules.  We’ll see how that works after we’re off suspension!