By Andrew Zar
Having spent over a year working within the confines of Facebook to promote my artistic venture DarkBrain.com, I’ve run into many interesting problems with respect to censorship and how it is applied by Facebook.
Facebook has over 600 million users and is one of the most successful Internet companies of all time. They have also developed a “Facebook connect” feature which is being widely adopted as a “single login” to many other websites – a useful and powerful feature.
In this rise to such a size, Facebook does have some interesting strategies. One is that they have a strict ban on content that is hard to really nail down. On one hand, they accept Playboy’s making a page and posting glamorous women, sometimes scantily clad. On the other hand, they ban comic book art – or any other art – of women who are scantily clad or even if they “glorify a body type.” (For comic artists, it is pretty hard to make any interesting characters that don’t glorify a body type – Superman, Wonder Woman, you name it – they glorify a body type!)
But the most interesting of tactics is the WAY Facebook censors content. They have a “Report Image” feature that anybody can pick on any image. When an image is reported, it gets banned as does the person who posted it in their “zero tolerance” policy. The person who did the report is never mentioned, the person who posted the image is not contacted – they are simply banned with a notification email and there is no way to contact Facebook to discuss it in any way.
The result of such a strategy is quite interesting – it deeply rewards trolls and it deeply discriminates against creative artists.
To put this in perspective – art by Michelangelo, Rodin, Dali, Frazetta – you name it – especially any modern artist who does anything in that vein – is banned and discouraged from participating in Facebook.
This is a big deal for artists as a huge group of their fans, the ones who pay for their art, who they want to communicate with and continue to do business with, the very foundation of their job – is denied to them. Dozens of models, photographers, artists and more have been banned quickly, without warning and without recourse.
Now, what is most curious about this strategy is that Facebook has a feature where you can limit your “Facebook Page” to be shown to only adults 18+ or older (or higher, your choice). But, even if you have turned this on, you cannot post even PG-rated material without being banned. Facebook’s strategies promote a watered-down, G-rated experience for even adults. For 600 million people, is the only answer that all content must be G-rated? Is that the best that one of the most powerful and rich Internet companies can come up with?
As a sample of this, here is an image that resulted in my own banning and crimped my efforts to communicate to our over 2,200 followers on Facebook – each of whom chose to join our page and the page is restricted to 18+ or older. This image is a hand-drawn piece of art that shows no nudity and is nowhere near as racy as some commercials on network tv, or even the images posted by Sports Illustrated or Playboy on Facebook itself!
To explore the topic, I setup a Facebook page called “Stop Censoring Art” – although I do expect it will eventually be banned by Facebook… just as soon as someone reports some of the porn I posted in there from Rodin, Dali, Frazetta and others.
And I’ve barely begun to even discuss that ART is often MEANT to challenge people. I suppose that is true, everywhere but Facebook!
Owner and Operator of DarkBrain.com
- A Chinese Facebook is Coming and Will Make Huge Censorship Concessions (censorshipinamerica.com)
- Facebook, Censorship and Art (censorshipinamerica.com)
- U.S. Denounces Internet Censorship Worldwide While Pushing For More Censorship At Home (censorshipinamerica.com)