Facebook Is Flagging/Banning Accounts For Posting An Admittedly Strange Children's Book Illustration

from the no-leg-to-stand-on dept

I’ll admit that very few things in this existence we all share give me as much pleasure at poking at the prudish censorship employed by Facebook. The overly broad puritanical guidelines, theoretically designed to save our sensitive eyes from anything as horrible as a breast or a penis, often instead results in the censorship of parody, renowned artwork, and bronze statues. That sincere but misguided attempt to keep things PG on its site is inherently funny, but nearly as inherently funny as is the fact that the following image was (rather innocently) included in one of a collection of children’s books in France, entitled Images of Ponies and Horses.

Right about now you’re thinking that you just witnessed a French how-to manual on having a horse be all that it can be inside of you. But it isn’t! Honest! What this actually is is an attempt by the illustrator to show how similar the bone structure of human beings and horses are by aligning their respective physiology in this way. A rep from the publisher told BuzzFeed:

“Obviously, we never wanted to shock our readers with that drawing,” a Fleurus spokesperson told BuzzFeed. “We publish educational books and make realistic or explanatory illustrations. In that case, our goal was to make the child visually comprehend that the bone structure of the horse and the human being are similar,” they said. “Putting them in the same position makes the likening more understandable and concrete.”

So, we have an unfortunately designed illustration that was supposed to be educational now going viral entirely because of the context our own dirty minds adds to the image. BuzzFeed wrote a post on the image, only to find that — you guessed it — Facebook had begun flagging the article as it was being shared on the site.

Well, things got even weirder with this horse thing. Facebook seems to be flagging this article — the one you’re reading right now — as pornography. And then, after Facebook removes this article from your feed, it makes you go through your photos and verify that none of them are pornographic. In fact, Facebook’s moderators seem to find this horse picture so inappropriate, a member of BuzzFeed’s social media team received a 24-hour ban from posting on BuzzFeed’s Facebook page.

And this is why Facebook should get out of the morality business to every last degree possible. An article about a hilarious, but innocent, educational illustration is being flagged, users are being hassled about their other photos on the site, and some folks are even getting banned. Because? Well, because it appears that Facebook moderators have the same perverse baseline psyche as the rest of us, resulting in an image of a man and a horse being compared physiologically becoming suspected horse-man-porn. And the article pointing out what it actually is is the one that got flagged. That’s as much of a failure of this sort of thing as we could hope for.

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Comments on “Facebook Is Flagging/Banning Accounts For Posting An Admittedly Strange Children's Book Illustration”

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38 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

So, we have an unfortunately designed illustration

But do we, though? That your mind and mine went there amidst childish giggling should not condemn the author’s intention or prowess. The publisher’s response is sensible enough.
And how stupid would it be to depict the horse upright, “arms” extended beside a human doing the same?

That said, banning Buzzfeed seems like a bonus.

skeeter says:

A Horse, of Course

I am troubled as to why they couldn’t use a Kardashian as the human example. God knows, there’s enough naked Kardashian photos out there that anyone with 10-minutes of Photoshop experience could have drawn the bones on, just because! Maybe, that’s why Facebook banned the photo – not enough Kardashian in the photo!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: A Horse, of Course

I think the idea that the French would use a Kardashian wuld have a horse’s chance in hell and would fall victim to a NIH bias (Not Invented Here). Why not a tasteful can-can dancer?

I also think they’re very naughty to put a naked human in such close proximity to a non-naked horse (clothed exactly as nature intended). But that’s the French for you.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

It took me five seconds...

…to get past the sexual implications of the two subjects in their awkward position.

After that the human bent down that way made sense: The horse’s forelimbs were made for walking. ours aren’t.

This is how censorship begins. Things start with what is considered popularly obscene. Then they get into what is considered by minorities to be obscene. And then they get into what is just generally kinda odd.

In the meantime, cat murder videos and ISIL beheadings: AOK on Facebook!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Somewhere in there is the incidentally implicative.

It was a site like buzzfeed that introduced me to the 1950s kid’s game Poor Pussy

As implicatedly inappropriate as it might be, a friend of mine recalls playing it as a girl and it being a total giggle-fest for kids under ten.

Facebook, and by proxy US society, may just have to get over itself, enjoy the giggle and move on.

Dirk Diggler says:

The best thing you can do to fight censorship is to report everything you disagree with. If we all do this it will bog down their system so much that no amount of moderators can silence us!

I’ve reported probably 5000 posts on Facebook so far today – and am going to keep at it until they don’t have the resources to censor opposing views.

Justme says:

Just a thought. . .

It would seem to me that the smart thing to do would be to let users determine what content they would or would not like to be shown.

A content filter that was user controlled but that had default setting to protect even the most easily offended would be better for both the users and the company.

It would keep the user responsible for content and protect Facebook from any liability for user content. It would also lessen the possibility that content filtering could or would be used as a way to shape or manipulate users opinion in any way.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Just a thought. . .

But that takes work, and requires personal responsibility, and people still might see something to offend their oh-so-delicate sensibilities… much easier to complain and force everyone else to hide anything that might possibly be seen by someone as offensive so that everyone can go through life without facing anything that might make them feel uncomfortable.

/s

Tortured For My Faith says:

Believe it not

Right about now you’re thinking that you just witnessed a French how-to manual on having a horse be all that it can be inside of you. But it isn’t! Honest! What this actually is is an attempt by the illustrator to show how similar the bone structure of human beings and horses are by aligning their respective physiology..

I’m still having a hard time believing that Barrack Hussein Obama was legally qualified to be President of the United States of America. Believing this is nothing more than a French physiological illustration will have to go on the back burner.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Believe it not

Some of us would rather have an allegedly illegal Kenyan than a business mogul who spent his prior career taking advantage of corporate law to siphon money from other companies like a sanguiverous parasite pulls blood. Then walking away before the damage is realized and the company crumbles from within.

And then with all Romney’s millions, the only charity to which he spared alms was his own church (which itself is frighteningly stingy about causes outside itself).

And we have no indicator how Mr. Robber Baron would have fared in the White House. Remember what happened the last time we let a Republican in there.

Obama is far from a saint, but his crimes have mostly been continuations of Bush policy. I seriously doubt we’d be seeing a different course of action from Romney. He was a stay-the-course kinda guy.

Except maybe more people would be dying due to lack of medical care. But fuck those guys, right?

Monday (profile) says:

Even a small amount of Education could cure this.

At work, I put on a notice board with a joke and running fallacy with it. I even wrote the word Fallacy, as in “Guilty of the…”

I was reported because “She knew what a fallacy is, and it was offensive and disgusting. I bought her a fucking dictionary.

The picture is worth a thousand words – or maybe a book or two.

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