Facebook now censors photos for depicting body in ‘undesirable manner’ even when promoting feminist agenda

May 26, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

Facebook now censors photos for depicting body in ‘undesirable manner’ even when promoting feminist agenda

May 26, 2016

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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To start with the end of the story, Facebook did apologize and allowed the photo at the end, but this case shows how Social media networks have control over what photos are perceived “OK”, or “accepted”.

The story starts when Cherchez la Femme, an Australian group that promotes an agenda of “unapologetically feminist angle”, said that an ad for their upcoming even was rejected by Facebook. The ad featured Tess Holliday, a plus-sized model wearing a bikini. According to Facebook, grounds for rejection were: violating the company’s “ad guidelines”.

cherchez-la-femme-01

Which guidelines? Facebook’s ad team said that it violated the “health and fitness policy”. Here, Cherchez La Femme producer Jessamy Gleeson explains on the groups page:

Earlier this week, on the back of announcing the show, I went to boost our event through Facebook. I sometimes do this because Facebook’s weird and wonderful algorithms mean that if I don’t, our event announcements can get lost, and won’t be seen by that many people.

To my surprise, Facebook rejected my boosted ad request because it promoted an “idealised physical image”. I appealed this decision through Facebook, thinking that someone must have gotten a little confused about what we were doing by using an image of the divine Tess Holliday for the event banner.

Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable. Ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves. Instead, we recommend using an image of a relevant activity, such as running or riding a bike.”

Gleeson is definitely not happy, this is what she told the group on facebook:

We’re raging pretty hard over here — both because Facebook seemingly has no idea that plus sized, self-describing fat women can feel great about themselves, and also because we haven’t been able to boost the original damn post

At the end, Facebook reconciled and approved the ad. It also apologized to Cherchez La Femme:

Our policies are in place to protect the community from offensive ads. This is not the case here and I’m sorry for our incorrect review,” said a Facebook team member in a statement to the group. “We processes millions of ads per week, and there are instances that we incorrectly disapprove an image.”

And Gleeson is (rightfully) still not happy, in an interview to Mashable she says:

It shouldn’t take international media attention for Facebook to realise it has a problem with how it is policing women’s bodies in its network. We would like to see Facebook seriously reconsider the policy that lead to this situation, and consult with feminists and body-positivist activists to rewrite and readdress this policy

I must say that I agree with Gleeson on this. Facebook should have a heavy hand on the trigger when removing photos from the network, especially as Facebook is de-facto the place where a lot of public conversation happens.

[via mashable]

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Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh

Udi Tirosh is an entrepreneur, photography inventor, journalist, educator, and writer based in Israel. With over 25 years of experience in the photo-video industry, Udi has built and sold several photography-related brands. Udi has a double degree in mass media communications and computer science.

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8 responses to “Facebook now censors photos for depicting body in ‘undesirable manner’ even when promoting feminist agenda”

  1. NotReallyHere Avatar
    NotReallyHere

    We have entered the age of the narrow-minded … and online social networks just makes it easier for them them to suppress what they don’t like.

  2. Karen Padilla Avatar
    Karen Padilla

    Shame on Facebook. You allow all sorts of ads depicting women practically nude or in provocative positions, yet, you think the photo above is “undesirable”. This is a woman in a bathing suit that covers all the parts that should be covered. If you can’t tell the difference between porn and a photo of a woman in a bathing suit, you have no business policing anything. You have thousands of children on your site that are under 13 who are listed as being 104 years old or older – why aren’t you policing that. Police all these trolls out there who are joining groups so they can troll for women. I’ve had 2 in just 2 months. I no longer ‘friend’ anyone until I actually meet them. There is no selection on reporting someone who is posing as a member of a special interest group targeting women for sexual harassment. You have an option to report targeting of children, who shouldn’t even be on FB, but we can’t report these perverts. While, I applaud you for apologizing, I can’t help seeing all the other things you do that just aren’t right.

  3. Robert Michael Sitter Avatar
    Robert Michael Sitter

    we shouldnt be promoting unhealthy lifestyles like clearly shown in the above image.

    1. Forrest Ranus Avatar
      Forrest Ranus

      Agreed. It would be just as gross if she were as severely underweight

  4. WillMondy Avatar
    WillMondy

    Strikes me as odd that certain photo groups are allowed to post basically nude pictures of women, but they ban this instead? I have to say I am getting tired of this whole social media thing…

  5. Rex Deaver Avatar
    Rex Deaver

    I think you mean NOT have a heavy hand?

  6. TByte Avatar
    TByte

    So….pretty much anything offends feminists and no apology no matter how sincere will stop them from whining about it.

  7. Sean Avatar
    Sean

    Going to get into the extreme pendulum effect of this type of ad thinking. You should not be promoting either end of the spectrum, size 0 or size 100, as healthy extremes. While I agree that us overweight (or any weight) people should not be ashamed of our bodies, I, as an overweight person, would NEVER EVER IN MY LIFE tell someone it’s OK to be overweight. It’s not. No more than it’s OK to be anorexic. Being overweight (and I know personally) is a hindrance to your health and make life that much harder. I’ve struggled with it for 57 years. I’ve had to deal with a lot of issues due to my weight including unconformable seating on everything from planes to theaters. And, NO, I don’t think that they should make seats so big as to accommodate my fat butt as a rule. It’s MY problem, not theirs. I’m the one who can’t put down the fork. Let’s not forget to mention some embarrassing moments like being kicked off a ride at an amusement park in front of my son and his friends because the security bar would not close all the way. Definitely do not be ashamed of who you are (I’m not) but don’t go out and promote that it’s a healthy and acceptable lifestyle.