Facebook Cracks Down on Adult Content, Spares Playboy?

screen shot playboy

It is increasingly apparent that Facebook is not even bothering to explain itself, meting out severe punishments to users who honestly have no clue what is or is not acceptable anymore in Facebookland.

In its ongoing war to maintain a puritanical G-rated online universe (where even images of nude art and breastfeeding women are routinely removed), Facebook now seems to have declared war on adult content pages, from adult humor to BDSM to more tame Playboy style T&A pages.

On June 22 without warning thousands of 18+ pages were unpublished, leaving shocked page owners with no recourse other than an “appeal” button. Since this apparent raid, some of these pages have been restored (most in the first 48 hours) while the majority are still awaiting a verdict in an notoriously opaque appeals process that does not invite participation by the offending page. And on June 28, hundreds of page owners spared in the first strike, woke up to find their fully operational (and Facebook community standards compliant) adult content pages deleted (versus unpublished) without notice, recourse to appeal or explanation. (When Facebook unpublishes a page, the content is still visible to the page owner. A deleted page no longer exists.)

Most page owners, many of whom had thousands of fans, have already begun to rebuild by starting their pages over. Many have also formed secret FB groups to rally around each other and support the rebooted pages. And others have created new pages decrying Facebook’s heavy-handed censorship.

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 2.42.58 PM

In this latest salvo by Facebook, what is increasingly apparent is that Facebook is not even bothering to explain itself, meting out severe punishments to users who honestly have no clue what is or is not acceptable anymore in Facebookland. When Facebook removes a post and blocks the poster’s account, an automated message includes a link to a definition so vague as to be useless.

Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and any explicitly sexual content where a minor is involved. We also impose limitations on the display of nudity.

The following three images are just a few of many examples of content Facebook has recently removed from adult-oriented pages even though these images do not violate Facebook’s own in-house handbook for nudity and sexual content, used as recently as last year by FB employees whose job it is to wade through the onslaught of incoming reports by Facebook’s frontline police force—its offended users, some of whom it seem make it a virtual career to play the moral sheriff role. Specifics include removal of items that involve “Any obvious sexual activity even if naked parts are hidden from view by hands, clothes or other objects. Cartoon/art included. Foreplay allowed (Kissing, groping etc) even for same sex individuals” and “Naked private parts including female nipple bulges and naked butt cracks; male nipples are okay,” and “Digital/cartoon nudity. Art nudity OK” but watch out for “camel toes and moose knuckles.”

bumshot

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 3.39.59 PMScreen shot 2013-06-27 at 3.38.23 PM

Perhaps most disturbing is that in this new and more stringent anti-adult content campaign, Facebook conveniently manages to overlook big media players like Facebook Playboy and Maxim, pages currently running with impunity images like these:

PB

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 8.49.32 PM

 

The plot thickens when Facebook also takes paid lingerie ads that display a partial view of the dreaded nipple, an infraction that could shut down an entire adult content page or block the user who posted it for up to 3o days.

FB Bra and Panty ad w nippleSome page owners are accusing the Feminist coalition, Women, Action & Media (WAM) for this latest Facebook crackdown, an organization that recently forced Facebook to admit its lax policy on gender-based hate speech. But spokeswomen from WAM’s Facebook Page ardently deny any involvement in this latest purge.

Other rumors circulate that there has been a change of leadership in Facebook’s Policy Department and the implication that the incoming division head is changing the game by coming down hard on adult pages that have been sprouting like weeds in Facebook’s sexually sanitized garden.

Certainly Facebook has a right to create the rules of engagement for its users. But for some reason Facebook also seems to be unwilling to share those rules explicitly, so that users can comply without confusion. Publishing in the community standards the very same list of guidelines above used by Facebook staff to sort through reported content, would be a simple solution, giving users the same knowledge as FB User Operations staff of what is forbidden and what is sanctioned.

Yet Facebook Policy Spokesperson Fred Wolens, in an email earlier this month to the question why Facebook doesn’t simply outline explict do’s and don’ts responded, “The Community Standards are inherently vague because it would be impossible to list out (in all +70 FB languages) everything that would be both policy compliant and non-compliant. Instead, we offer guidelines to help people know what is and isn’t OK to post. As far as nudity, we do not allow exposed genitalia or nipples.” 

In the meantime, as Facebook claims to be creating an “open and connected” world, it is also covertly leading an Inquistion-like dark ages when it comes to nudity and sexuality. And while borderline porn players like Playboy and Maxim are mysteriously immune to this latest onslaught of bans and blocks, pages run by sex educators and sex positivity leaders are downright harassed by Facebook—often simply because this material “offends” the mainstream FB user.

Jeffrey Rosen, a law professor at George Washington University, is paraphrased in an NPR blog, All Tech Considered, saying that “If Facebook had existed in the 1970s … rules like these could have easily made organizing around, say, gay rights, difficult or impossible.” He says, “by definition, transgressive movements, at their founding, are going to offend people.” In otherwords, what upsets people is not always a bad thing—it might be a new social movement in its nascency, like say, Feminism or Sex Positivity.

Screen shot 2013-06-27 at 9.32.49 PMAn example of this? Rebelle Sex, a FB Page of 20K fans built over six months (and including 3K in paid FB ads) was one of the pages hit in the June 22nd raid. Unlike ‘tits and ass’ style pages, many of which are still up, this page ran links to educational content from sex educators and writers worldwide and was intended as a branding platform for the online magazine by the same name launching this fall. Far from porn or sleaze, the About section described it as “an open-minded and curiosity-driven magazine aimed at reclaiming our inherent sexual innocence,” and as a “dynamic hub of erotic knowledge for the sensually curious.” The fan base reflected this with an average weekly reach of 100,000 users, divided equally among men and women, something rarely seen in the porn industry.

In the end, Facebook is looking less like the community and branding builder it claims to be and more like an unpredictable enforcing entity that can without due warning block or delete your personal account and unpublish your Business or Fan Page, even after you have paid adverstising dollars to Facebook to grow it. With this latest seemingly arbitrary and inconsistent application of vague community standards in the name of keeping things “safe” for users, Facebook has shown itself to be the most unsafe place of all.

 

Premium Membership, The Good Men Project

About Lori Ann Lothian

Lori Ann Lothian is a sexy daring writer who challenges assumptions about love, sex and relationships in her columns at Huffington Post and elephant Journal and in feature articles at the Good Men Project, Origin Magazine, Yoganonymous, Better After 50 and more. Former editor of the relationship section of elephant Journal, she is now a senior editor at the Good Men Project. Follow her on Twitter andGoogle. Stay informed, sign up for Lori’s mailing list here.

Comments

  1. Hi Lori,
    Great post.
    Thankfully my FB page was not taken down last weekend … although I did receive a warning from FB about buying ‘sponsored ads’. My recent ad for ‘Awaken the Goddess Within’ Sensuality Coaching was deemed ‘adult content’ and I was warned that if I tried to ‘buy’ another ad, my page would be taken down. (even though FB asks me every day to buy more ads!!)
    Definately very vague standards
    Kind Regards Kim xx

  2. We loved the Rebelle Sex page :( They haven’t touched our page for our site as of yet (knock on a woody) http://www.intothelifestyle.com – we would love to have you share your content on our social network!

  3. Lori Ann Lothian says:

    thanks James. Please be careful not to invest in FB as of yet…as a business platform it is riddled with mine fields. I have another article coming out this Monday detailing this.

  4. Well I hate to say it, but Facebook does provide the platform, programming and everything else to these users for free… even if content is what brings more users, and thus people who spend money and make FB able to survive… In the end, it’s THEIR business, and I guess they can do what they want. Most people I know are pretty over FB and trying to figure out what it’s going to do next, having spent thousands on landing pages, and various other tools, only to have them eradicated with timeline. Facebook has been on the decline for some time.. and these types of moves are what will bury them. *Prediction*

  5. We also somehow survived the two black Saturdays… I wonder – how long more. Our site is not hard core kink, just light accents, but we do promote our book – which is erotica, so obviously I won’t post pics of cats or other cutesies there – but stuff that will inspire imagination. I doesn’t have to be a nude, but I’ll always add some suggestive comment to it…
    Anyway, I’ve read all the sites that have been closed may reopen at BDSM Friend book… Well, for now, I’m copying the contents of the page – especially those comments I so painstakingly wrote…
    facebook.com/HekatesPassage

  6. John Anderson says:

    “Some page owners are accusing the Feminist coalition, Women, Action & Media (WAM) for this latest Facebook crackdown”

    Probably because it’s true. Had these organizations not pushed, there would be no crack down.

    “But spokeswomen from WAM’s Facebook Page ardently deny any involvement in this latest purge.”

    Unfortunately, you break it you bought it.

  7. I run a facebook page called sexy chicas of motocross, an I have yet to receive any complaints or anything, all the females on bikes I post are all in bikinis and thongs but show zero nudity, just skimpy clothing and bathing suits, check it out if your on facebook and leave a comment so I know you been there

  8. Hi Lori

    Long time no see…I’m just wondering, I often get a post from some petition website that states that FB is allowing child porn to go unchecked on its pages. Do you think this is true? Have you heard of this at all?

    • Facebook doesn’t do much about child porn unless we mass report it. I have many friends with Anonymous who run ops to find and report cp pages and it’s a never ending battle there are so many of them. I haven’t checked in with any ops to see how it is since this change but before it was hit or miss whether or not fb would agree with us that it was cp. A lot of times they left it up.

  9. I’m confused because my page was unpublished for being pornographic but there isn’t anything even remotely pornographic about the topic or the content. I still haven’t gotten it back yet.

    • Lori Ann Lothian says:

      I am curious what your page was about? I have heard of many pages wondering why their content was unpublished, but for the most part they had (inadvertently) or purposely pushed the envelope on nudity (hint of nipple, or g-string…which as the article shows, seems okay for Playboy facebook…)

  10. Thanks for the article. I own a female wrestling company that is clearly not pornographic, with no nudity, never will be, but we worry about our long term future on Facebook as well.

    Sure, many of our ladies dress sexy. But, the only ones seeing the posts (or should be) are people who like our fan page.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] via Facebook Cracks Down on Adult Content, Spares Playboy? — The Good Men Project. [...]

  2. [...] Facebook Cracks Down on Adult Content, Spares Playboy? [...]

  3. [...] inmy drafts at elephant journal. (I am terrified to run it—a more newsy piece I wrote for GMP (Facebook Cracks Down on Adult Content, Spares Playboy?) was blocked from users newsfeeds in the first 12 hours after nearly 3000 people shared it.) I [...]

  4. [...] drafts at elephant journal. (I am terrified to run it—a more newsy piece I wrote for GMP (Facebook Cracks Down on Adult Content, Spares Playboy?) was blocked from users newsfeeds in the first 12 hours after nearly 3000 people shared it.) I [...]

  5. [...] inmy drafts at elephant journal. (I am terrified to run it—a more newsy piece I wrote for GMP (Facebook Cracks Down on Adult Content, Spares Playboy?) was blocked from users newsfeeds in the first 12 hours after nearly 3000 people shared it.) I [...]

  6. [...] drafts at elephant journal. (I am terrified to run it—a more newsy piece I wrote for GMP (Facebook Cracks Down on Adult Content, Spares Playboy?) was blocked from users newsfeeds in the first 12 hours after nearly 3000 people shared it.) I [...]

  7. [...] such a fierce obstacle course I surrendered. (The final straw: Facebook, in a system wide raid on adult content finally deleting a fan page for the magazine that took 6 months and 3K to build to its 20K [...]

  8. […] inmy drafts at elephant journal. (I am terrified to run it—a more newsy piece I wrote for GMP (Facebook Cracks Down on Adult Content, Spares Playboy?) was blocked from users newsfeeds in the first 12 hours after nearly 3000 people shared it.) I […]

Speak Your Mind

*