UPDATED There’s a page on Facebook called “Ubi Pedera, Ubi Pedera, Ubi Pedera”. Translated from Croatian, it means “Kill the faggot, kill the faggot, kill the faggot”. The images on the page are taken from an alleged execution of two gay men in Iran. After using Facebook’s tool to report violations of the community guidelines, Facebook sent me an e-mail saying “we were not able to confirm that the specific page you reported violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”
There is a problem with the arbitrary way Facebook makes judgement calls. Last year, I got my personal Facebook account suspended by Facebook for posting a rather innocent photo on the Facebook Page of my former employer Björn Borg (full story on Adland). The kicker is that Björn Borg is an underwear brand, and when it comes to sexual innuendos and sexually explicit photos Björn Borg is much less NSFW than brands like Andrew Christian for example.
During the same period, an innocent photo of two gay men kissing was deleted by Facebook.
I think that amounts to Facebook outsourcing the moral decision about content to users. When a user finds something that offends them, they report it. Every report is read by a Facebook employee, who then decides whether the content is a violation or not. Obviously things that are perceived as ‘gay’ will be reported far more often than ‘straight’ material – and the employees will never be fired for being too strict, so they do not give the benefit of the doubt.
However, Facebook isn’t necessarily a bad guy. It’s more cowardice. And they are trying to improve. Nowadays, when you report content that you perceive as violating Facebook’s terms, you can choose to get an e-mail report once Facebook has reviewed your complaint. The problem with that is that every time I’ve reported a page or content that violates Facebook’s terms, the e-mail I’ve got looks like the one I got for reporting “Ubi Pedera”:
Has Facebook now stopped censoring content? That would make me happy – I actually think that crazy LGBT-hating pages like One Million Moms should be allowed to be part of Facebook. I’m an advocate of allowing everything short of child pornography, encouraging killing or violence against people, and gore. I think Facebook would be better off if they did like Flickr and Xbox Live do: flagging content as ‘mature’ or ‘nsfw’ and being able to choose what you can see: only family friendly stuff or everything.
However, I doubt Facebook is censoring less. I think that Facebook will continue to export American Moral Majority where nipples will result in account suspension, and artworks like Anders Zorn’s famous paintings or Robert Mapplethorpe’s photos will be deleted.
It’s in the light of that conclusion I have a hard time understanding how Facebook can say that a page that is called “kill the faggot” doesn’t violate their “Statement of Rights and Responsibilities”.
UPDATE: This page disappeared early Sunday evening (November 4), after tens, if not hundreds, of reports being filed – and the majority getting the same reply as I got. In the end, it was @dreahouston who tweeted the right person at Facebook and got it fixed (yay and thanks Andrea!). However, there are more pages like this. For example this one, called “Kill, kill, kill faggots”. I just reported it, we’ll see how it ends. Also, it’s crazy that the formal reporting structure of Facebook fails, and an informal wins. It’s not good for Facebook’s credibility.