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Ides of March —

March 15, 2013

Warning: The red and bold links are to NSFW images. Keepin’ it PG on the surface to make it readable for more people.

Last Friday, Substantia Jones brought down the wrath of Zuckerberg on her awesome Adipositivity Project because she posted this photo on Facebook. She was banned temporarily and is now back on Facebook, but their message is clear: NO DISTANT NIPPLES!

Either that or there’s some sort of flesh quota we don’t know about.  In any case, here’s Facebook’s official nudity policy.

Nudity Definition That’s some serious shit, no? They have a strict policy against sharing pornographic content and they impose limitations on the display of nudity. And now they claim they “aspire to respect” breastfeeding photos.

Clearly, this is the will of the people of Facebook. I mean, nudity has it’s place, but Facebook is not it. Pornographic content is right out, and will be removed post haste, ipso facto, quod est absurdum.

Clearly, Substantia doesn’t have a nipple to stand on. She was rightfully ousted from Facebook and should she continue to violate their strict policy against pornographic content, she will be banned PERMANENTLY.

I, for one, say Here Here! It’s about time we rounded up these deviant rapscallions and banished them all from the digital realm for eternity! There are children on the Facebook and they might see such an abundance of flesh and be led down the path of perversion and carnality. We cannot allow this for happen, and that’s why I stand with Facebook.

That’s right.

I Stand With Facebook.

(If there are any graphic designers out there, feel free to run with that concept.)

But what was it about Substantia’s photo that earned her banishment? We’ve all seen worse photos on Facebook than this overhead shot that might conceivably give one a nip-glimpse. So how do we navigate these seemingly-vague parameters.

You see, Facebook does allow a certain amount of flesh to be shown. I mean, we aren’t Pilgrims, amirite?

I mean, the Sexy Bikini Women page (2,389 likes) is acceptable, obviously. People wear swimsuits and flesh is exposed. It’s gonna happen and you can’t censor all of it, even if the pictures are really just women in their underwear.

Oh, and the Strip Clubs page (21,260 likes) is acceptable, obviously. Legal strip clubs have a right to advertise their services on Facebook. It’s gonna happen and you can’t censor all of it, even if it includes a photo of woman who, for all intents and purposes, is bare-assed and on all fours.

So I’m sure you understand why the Hot naked women page (12,693 likes). Hot, naked women have the right to show how hot and naked they are on Facebook. It’s gonna happen and you can’t censor all of it, even if the only thing standing between this and Hustler are tiny, flesh-colored, Photoshopped nipple and crotch covers.

Wait, what?!? Okay, I may have gone too far with that last one, I mean the photo in question is clearly pornographic. The only flesh you can’t see on the model are her aereolas and vulva (tee hee, tee hee).

Think of the children!

Being the good netizen I am, I immediately reported the photo as pornographic, clutching my pearls firmly.

I was shocked — SHOCKED — at the response I got.

Photo Not Removed

Not pornographic?

But… what about Substantia? And distant nipples? And flesh quotas?

Are you telling me that Facebook’s nudity policy comes down to aereola and vulva exposure? So, theoretically, if Substantia had posted her photo with flesh pasties, they’d have allowed it to remain?

There was only one way to find out. With Substantia’s permission, I submitted this version of the original photo that got her banned, but this time I’ve used the same nipple covers as the photo from the Hot naked women group. I asked friends to report the photo for nudity and one very close friend took a screen cape of the response he got 24 hours later. Not Removed

This is news, right? Facebook’s definition of nudity is the exposure of female nipples and vulva. Period. End-stop.

So long as you have tiny, flesh-colored, Photoshopped nipple and crotch covers, you can post whatever prurient material you want on Facebook. But this seemed too good to be true. I had to try again with something without distant nipples. Something closer to the Hot naked women photo in terms of the angle, at least.

Our very own Heather gave me permission to add nipple covers to this photo from her Fat Naked Art Project. On Wednesday I posted this nipple-less version to my Facebook page and then had my close friend report it immediately for nudity. Imagine my surprise when he got this response later that same day.

Not Removed2

So that clinches it. This is Facebook’s official nudity standard:

  • Nipples and vulva = Bad
  • Barely-there flesh-toned covers = Good

And although this resolves a troubling issue of inconsistency that we have seen from Facebook in the past regarding fat bodies versus thin bodies, this isn’t the end of the story.

This morning when I logged onto Facebook, I learned that I had received a 24-hour ban from Facebook. “Oh great,” I thought. “They changed their mind and are now punishing me for posting nude-ish photos.”

Nope, wasn’t that. I was being banned for a comment I made on February 21 in response to someone on the fan page of Emily Yoffe (aka Dear Prudence). You may recall that I wrote this scathing critique of Yoffe’s horrible advice column/video that mocked a fat child after a parent claimed she eats 20-piece McNugget meals every day because she’s a terrible, terrible piggy.

When Yoffe announced on her Facebook page that they were removing the video (even though it’s still there now), I responded with a link to my post. In response to that link, one of Yoffe’s fans wrote this comment.

Complaint

Not one to take an insult lying down, I responded to this woman with the comment that got me banned three weeks later.

Weird Coincidence

Now, I do have a tendency toward paranoia, so forgive me if this is a stretch, but I find it odd that I was banned for a comment I made three weeks ago less than 24 hours after my second attempt to test Facebook’s nudity policy. Was Facebook sending me a personal message?

I probably wouldn’t be drawing such nefarious conclusions if this wasn’t my second experience with Facebook’s ban hammer after being critical of their policies. I had a run-in with Facebook in 2010 (which was covered by Jezebel on July 9, 2010) over fat-hating groups with horrible names like “beautiful girls, all over the world, except you. fat bitch” (215,000 likes).

At the time, a Facebook representative told me that they censored hate speech against “protected groups of people,” which technically did not include sexual orientation, except in some states.

On July 12, I posted proof that Facebook censored homophobic hate speech, which seemed to contradict the response I got. In fact, they responded to a complaint I made by deleting a gay-bashing page with zero fans after just 16 days of existence. The “fat bitch” page is still on Facebook, though not active.

Facebook has since changed it’s Community Standards on hate speech:

While we encourage you to challenge ideas, institutions, events, and practices, we do not permit individuals or groups to attack others based on their race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition.

Then on July 16, I posted my correspondence with a Facebook rep about why fat bashing groups were allowed to remain:

We take our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities very seriously and react quickly to reports of inappropriate content and behavior.  Specifically, we’re sensitive to content that includes pornography, harassment of specific private individuals, direct statements of hate against protected groups of people, and threats of violence.  The goal of these policies is to strike a very delicate balance between giving people the freedom to express their opinions and viewpoints – even those that may be controversial to some – and maintaining a safe and trusted environment.

After some research, I decided to point out an obvious problem with this policy:

I’m also curious why FB has not taken any action to remove misogynistic groups and pages from it’s website. I’ve done a simple search for the following terms and turned up an incredible number of groups that are dedicated to hatred toward women:

  • Stupid Bitch: 349
  • Dumb Bitch: 263
  • Fat Bitch: 345
  • Cunt: 500

Likewise, doing a search for the term “rape” yields a disturbing amount of “rape humor” pages. One group, “It isn’t r.a.p.e…. It’s SURPRISE SEX. (:” has 42,519 members.

If FB is committed to providing a “safe and trusted environment” why wouldn’t your organization be more proactive in preventing these kinds of hateful groups from spreading? Are women included in your “protected groups of people”?

I would appreciate clarification of your statement in light of these issues, please.

I never heard back from Facebook on that issue and at the time, the rape joke pages remained. Today, it seems Facebook does censor rape joke pages, but at the time they did nothing about that group and were staunchly resistant to change. I was a thorn in their side, pointing out the inconsistency of their policies.

Imagine my surprise when on July 19, 2010, my account was banned from Facebook for posting angry, hateful comments on the “It isn’t r.a.p.e…. It’s SURPRISE SEX. (:” group. For example:

If I hadn’t had this experience with Facebook, I might not be as suspicious that a comment I made three weeks ago earned my banishment today while defending Substantia’s photo. It’s probably just a coincidence, but I have a hard time squaring the swift responses I got to the photo complains with this delayed response to a rather mild rejoinder I made back in February.

Whatever the case, I hope that this new-found clarity on what constitutes nudity on Facebook will put to rest once and for all the wanton discrimination against posting nude photos of fat bodies.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. March 15, 2013 12:34 pm

    I agree that Facebook has all the internal consistency of a Presidential speech writer, but, what I really worry about is how, yet again, “empowerment” somehow requires women to run around with their clothes off. No. I want a better alternative. I want a movement that includes women who keep their “sexuality” private, and are reasonably modest in public, and who do not believe mere body parts are somehow the most important aspect of a woman’s identity.

    • March 15, 2013 10:40 pm

      Kell,
      I understand what you’re saying and I agree to a certain extent. I think FB has gone to far with breastfeeding pictures in the past. But I think the “Naked hot girls” or whatever page should be closed. Simply making the nipples flesh colored does not make it not porn. It makes it a nominal gesture in the direction of modesty, but it is pretty in-your-face for Facebook. If you want porn, there are plenty of outlets on the internet, but I think there should be a minimum standard, and nipple tassles doesn’t cut it.

      Now, the two photos I posted aren’t pornographic, in my opinion. They’re art. And whether that has a place on Facebook is debatable. I totally understand why posing nude is a form of empowerment for some people, especially if they’ve spent a lifetime being convinced that their body is hideous and should be hidden away. I don’t think it’s the only form of empowerment by a long shot. I think that in the pursuit of empowerment, we are usually the best judges of what path is best. And if we take a wrong path, we hopefully learn and grow. We all do, and we all have the right to choose our own paths. That’s the beauty of life.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  2. vesta44 permalink
    March 15, 2013 12:39 pm

    The hypocrisy of Facebook and its policies is boundless. I’ve given up trying to figure out the sense behind any of it and chalk it up to the mood of whoever happens to be in charge at the time – are they in a good mood, are they in a bad mood, did they sleep badly last night, did they just have a fight with someone? And are they looking for someone on whom they can take out their frustrations who can’t fight back? Because that explanation makes about as much sense as their so-called “explanations”.

  3. Duckie permalink
    March 15, 2013 2:49 pm

    I’m glad to know someone is doing this kind of work. thanks, Atchka!

  4. violetyoshi permalink
    March 15, 2013 3:28 pm

    This is what people who claim sizeism isn’t really an issue don’t understand, people not only are free to express their prejudice towards us, they are encouraged. They want to say this is different because we can change how we look, that’s BS. We should be able to celebrate our bodies, just like thin people can. Facebook needs to start being professional, and realizing that more and more groups are being discriminated, and they can’t just sit back and say “Well, we’re banning the pages that deal with forms of discrimination like racism..” that doesn’t work in today’s world.

    I’m not saying racism isn’t an important issue, but what I am saying is people listen when you claim you experienced racism. People laugh, people think that it’s stupid, a non-issue, when you say you experience sizeism. Instead of the people who already have benefited from advocacy helping fat people, they are joining the forces in saying it’s not an issue. Where would we be if people thought, “Well guess segregation isn’t an issue, doesn’t effect me!”, “Gay rights aren’t an issue, doesn’t affect me!” We’d still be in a racist and anti-gay society, we’re still in a society that discriminates against gay people, but it is recognized as discrimination. Discrimination against fat people is not seen as valid discrimination.

    If people cannot see that there is a similarity between The Biggest Loser and the Jim Crow era shows regarding stereotyping and dehumanizing people for their appearance, then I don’t know what to think of them. It’s the same damn thing, simply with different people. It is hypocrisy to stand by and say that fat rights don’t matter, when you benefit from people who have advocated for you to be free from discrimination. If you are upset by racism or homophobia, then why aren’t you upset by sizeism? I can’t say someone is an advocate for social justice, if they do not see that sizeism is an important issue.

    That fat people are the last group of people allowed to be openly prejudiced against. We might not be getting lynched in the streets, but we are being murdered in hospital rooms by techniques like gastric bypass surgery which is known to have numerous side effects, that outweigh it’s benefits. It should be seen as more horrifying when eugenics are performed behind closed doors, not less of an issue.

    If you think Facebook is bad, Tumblr is 10 times worse. They allow a pro-ana culture to thrive there, they regard statements about thin discrimination as being valid. They see nothing wrong with people denigrating fat people, and then claiming their eating disorder made them do it. No offense to people with eating disorders, and fat people with eating disorders, because I know the assumption is if you have an eating disorder you must be thin. I have seen stuff on there that if it was said about ethnic or homosexual people, would be seen as horrific. Yet, Tumblr believes that tearing into fat people, denying their lived experiences, saying they are less than human. Yet we’re supposed to respect the idea that people are persecuted for showing their bones. I even have been legit cyberbullied by someone on Tumblr, they have yet to pull down the site.

    I love the fat acceptance community because it illustrates to people, that fat stigma costs people their lives, it destroys children, and it has done nothing to make anyone healthier, it has only made people more sick.

  5. Tigrrbaby permalink
    March 15, 2013 8:39 pm

    It appears that using the word “ass” or “asshole” is the common denominator in the blocked comments.

    • March 15, 2013 10:31 pm

      There’s nothing in the Community Standards about profanity. But the deletion didn’t surprise me, it’s the timing. Three weeks later? What took so long? Perhaps the pornography button gets a faster response than the “he’s being mean to me” button, but it just seemed like odd timing, that’s all.

      Peace,
      Shannon

  6. The Real Cie permalink
    March 18, 2013 3:38 pm

    As long as the Fuckbook Moderators like what’s being shown, it won’t get pulled. Which leads me to think they must like animal torture, because it’s like pulling teeth to get sick images of mutilated animals off Facebook.

    • Elizabeth permalink
      March 18, 2013 5:15 pm

      This doesn’t surprise me but it’s very upsetting. My husband calls it Assbook. So no nipples but mutilating critters is okay. What a world we live in.

  7. The Real Cie permalink
    March 18, 2013 3:42 pm

    Oh, and there’s the fact that the blatantly misogynistic “It isn’t Rape” page continues to exist. I would pull off Facebook entirely, except that I’m an admin at a page which shares photos of animals in need of adoption and I think it does some good.

  8. March 19, 2013 3:58 pm

    Intelligent, insightful, well written article. Thank you. After years of friends and clients hounding me, I signed up with Facebook last month. The banality of it beggars belief.

    Conclusion: It’s depressing, self-perpetcuating nothingness.

    Is everybody there because we think we HAVE to be there?

    What if we’re not?

    Substantia Jones does amazing work. I too got involved in last week’s craziness, petitioning Facebook to reinstate her account. But all the while I was thinking, “Why are we doing this? Why does this ridiculous, ignorant, heavy-handed nothingness matter? Why don’t we just go somewhere else, where we can be ourselves?”

    Thank you again for your thoughtful essay, Atchka. Now I’ll have to go and “friend” you.

    – Marsha Coupé

    • March 19, 2013 4:18 pm

      Facebook can be useful for friends or small clubs keeping in touch (i.e. its original functions) For large groups, “causes”, corporate marketing, and, of course, overt hatred, it’s not so hot… I think most people put people they know into their news feed and ignore everything else. In other words, it’s a whole lot like the rest of the net, only with more overt discrimination against political/social ideas the managers don’t happen to like.

    • The Real Cie permalink
      March 21, 2013 12:24 pm

      “The Banality of it beggars belief.” :-D
      I find it to be a bit like going to a party, which is not really something I like to do in my “old age.” (48) There are some interesting people, and a whole lot of asshats that I can do without.
      I do it for the Animal Anarchy page that I’m an admin on. And for Pyramid Solitaire. I do admit being addicted to…er…LIKING Pyramid Solitaire. A little too much.

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