From where I stand, Facebook has the morality, or the sad excuse thereof, of a Taliban mullah. I have now been banned for three days for “abusing facebook features” for posting an entirely innocent image, much tamer than many I have seen.

It was the following, funny in my opinion, set-up shot, made in honour of another photographer who shot the same model in a similar shot some years ago:

Um, and now, it appears, I am “abusing features”?

It is hard to describe the contempt I feel for these morons.

Now, when I log in, I see this:

The only section in there that seems even remotely to offer a reason for the ban is this:

That to me is not nudity – nothing showing. It is definitely not not pornography; it is also certainly not sexual, let alone “inappropriately sexual”. if they think this is sexual, they are sick.

The dictionary I just consulted says that nudity means the state of being nude, which they say means this:

“nude  (njuːd)  — adj 1. completely unclothed; undressed 2. having no covering; bare; exposed”.

That does not apply here, so I must conclude that Facebook has redefined nudity as “anything remotely hinting that there may be nudity somewhere”. The Taliban, in other words.

So am I being ungrateful to Facebook? They are providing a free service, after all?

No way.

  • First, I am not getting a free product: I *am* the product. Facebook is worth billions because there are millions of advertising-consumers like me earning them money.
  • Second, Facebook has a monopoly on social interaction. The only way I can find and stay in touch with people from my past, customers from my present and prospects for the future, is Facebook.  Google+ has almost none of the people I am interested in on it. I do much business via Facebook. There is no alternative.

“Noblesse oblige”. If you are a monopoly, you have to be careful not to abuse that. You will be held to stricter standards. Facebook will find, one day, that its value is limited by its behaviour.

In the mean time, let me express how sorry I am for my American friends who have to live in a land ruled in part by their equivalent of the Taliban.

And censorship does not work. You can now go look at many more images – and these are NSFW, and do contain nudity – on my Tumblr page, here. Tumblr is not ruled by Taliban.

POST EDIT: Thanks to all my photographer friends from SPS, who have been universally supportive (and annoyed at FB’s prudishness).


13 thoughts on “Banhammered

    • I have certainly made my displeasure with Facebook’s Taliban morality known, but not in personal or actionable terms. And I agree this seems random: it is an innocent image by anyone’s standards but the Taliban’s. And there is no appeal.

  1. All Facebook has done is create a hobby for those who sped their time trying to get past the censorship rules. Search Google for nude, naked, sex, underagegirl, you will find anything. So much for protecting our youth. Many sites have a disclaimer; push yes or no to NSFW or not and off you go
    Having left Facebook to see your Tumbler account, I was not that much shocked or appalled, except at my pictures.
    Now examining your entire photo, I feel bad at the amount I am stealing from you in terms of composition and lighting. I am also impressed at the rapport between you and the models. They appear extremely comfortable and are able to show a sense of play that enlivens the photos.

    • Quite so, Fred – censorship of this type is silly if it clearly outside society’s norms – if it bows to the lowest common denominator.

      And don’t feel bad at using my ideas or techniques: that is what teaching is all about. We all learn from others, else we’d all still be making cave art. Ideas and techniques are all over the ‘net also! If I did not help, others would!

      And thanks for those compliments: model rapport is indeed extremely important.

  2. When did we start living in 1984? I see nothing wrong with this photo but apparently Big Brother has a lower tolerance for art. It’s sad when we can see half naked models on advertisements all over the place but a fun cheeky shot of a wonderful model is flagged for being inappropriate. Can I start going around to the billboards in TO and flagging them for being inappropriate or sexually explicit? People should have the choice to view your work or not, if they do not agree with some of your art, then they are really missing out on an exceptional talent.

    • Agreed. The lowest common denominator is a concern; so is the poor wording of terms. If nudity and sex are forbidden, then you should only ban nudity and sex – neither of which I see in this picture.

  3. Social Value
    People should have the freedom to build trust and reputation through their identity and connections, and should not have their presence on the Facebook Service removed for reasons other than those described in Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

    You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence.

    You will not develop or operate a third-party application containing alcohol-related or other mature content (including advertisements) without appropriate age-based restrictions.

    You do realize you are showing all of her bare toes!

    It does seem silly.

  4. Michael – not sure how FB is able to spot these ‘so called’ infractions…given the thousands, or millions of users. Perhaps, someone may have reported an offensive material, but cannot believe to be the issue, since most of your FB followers are also your blog followers. Or maybe someone has re-posted or provided a link of your pic on their blog and others found it offensive. Either way, the rules does not seem black and white…and is more gray if anything. I follow all 3 of your blogs religiously and find it useful and knowledgeable…it is unfortunate that others dont.

  5. Perhaps they couldn’t see her bra? And then thought that she was nude from the waist up?

    If that is the case, then I can see how the mistake was made and I can understand where they are coming from.

    If not, then I certainly agree. That photo doesn’t break their rules at all, which makes this really odd.

    Best of luck working it out!

  6. As long as we need corporations to host websites and social networks (instead of, for example, an entirely peer to peer based internet) this type of abuse will continue.

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