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