Facebook's Arbitrary Offensiveness Police Take Down Informational Video About Breast Cancer Screening

from the bunch-of-boobs dept

Stories of Facebook’s attempt at puritanical patrols of its site are legion at this point. The site has demonstrated it cannot filter out parody, artwork, simple speech in the form of outrage, iconic historical photos, or sculpture from its prude-patrol censorship. As a private company, Facebook is of course allowed to follow its own whim when it comes to what is allowed on its site, but as an important tool in this era for communication and speech, the company is also a legitimate target for derision when it FUBARs this as badly as it does so often.

So queue up the face-palming once more, as Facebook has decided to remove a video posted by a Swedish cancer charity informing women how to check for breast cancer, because the video included animated breasts, and breasts are icky icky.

Facebook has removed a video on breast cancer awareness posted in Sweden after deeming the images offensive, the Swedish Cancer Society said on Thursday. The video, displaying animated figures of women with circle-shaped breasts, was aimed at explaining to women how to check for suspicious lumps. Sweden’s Cancerfonden said it had tried in vain to contact Facebook, and had decided to appeal against the decision to remove the video.

Based on images on Cancerfonden’s site, the tantalizing breasts in question were of the variety of stick figures. Not exactly tantalizing in its imagery, the video content was instead supposed to educate women on the proper method for detecting lumps that could be cancerous. Save for perhaps some minor percentage of humankind, these are the types of images that don’t conjure a sexual connotation. And yet Facebook took them down.

To the social media giant’s credit, it eventually put the video back up on its site and apologized.

In a statement to the BBC, a spokeswoman for Facebook said the images of the Swedish campaign had now been approved.

“We’re very sorry, our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads,” she said. “This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologise for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ads.”

Which, you know, fine, but exactly how many of these types of stories must be endured before Facebook acknowledges that there is a problem with its filtering and censorship process? I don’t think the exclusion of oversight is the answer, but I would hope that we could agree that if the takedown filters continue to catch bronze statues and breast cancer videos in its net, perhaps some recalibration is needed.

Filed Under: , , , ,
Companies: facebook

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Facebook's Arbitrary Offensiveness Police Take Down Informational Video About Breast Cancer Screening”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
23 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

A clean miss by the thought police.

This was an informational posting. So why did the ‘ad police’ kick in? It must have been provided via the ad ‘whatever the hell FB uses’.

Maybe they could learn the concept of a Public Service Announcements. If only they would lose their typical American Puritanical reactions.

Just where did that boy grow up?

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

"Wimmin is teh ebil," or something. MRA crap.

As though moving our society towards characteristics generally perceived as feminine – caring, kindness, humility – would be a bad thing. This guy would probably think Jesus was a wuss.

Magnetic Resonance Angiography? Mandibular repositioning appliance? Monoamine releasing agent? Oh, men’s rights activism. 😉

timmaguire42 (profile) says:

Can we drop lines like “[a]s a private company, Facebook is of course allowed to follow its own whim when it comes to what is allowed on its site,” from these stories? It’s offensive that we’re supposed to apologize and qualify perfectly reasonable objections to objectionable behavior.

As for Facebook’s credit for putting the video back up. Very little credit is deserved. Actual credit should be reserved for when they start doing a better job of avoiding these problems in the future.

discordian_eris says:

Here’s a word I coined several decades ago that perfectly encapsulates what they are doing. Hell, it describes the primary motivations of so many things in America. From things like Facebooks policies to our financial institutions to almost all of our politicians.

Patheticism

The guiding philosophy of America, the race to see who’s behaviour is the most pathetic. Mr. Masnick, I gift you this new word, as it perfectly describes the overwhelming majority of the articles here on Techdirt. Not the articles themselves, but the subjects of the articles and the way that the people and organizations in them act.

Anonymous Coward says:

How many stories?

Which, you know, fine, but exactly how many of these types of stories must be endured before Facebook acknowledges that there is a problem with its filtering and censorship process?

Paying someone to apologize every week or so isn’t a big deal for Facebook. Unless there’s evidence they’re losing users or advertisers over this, should they even care? I hear lots of users complain about Facebook but they’re still users.

Anonymous Coward says:

I highly suspect that an automated algorithm, no real humans, was responsible for this one. And most of the ones involving anything tech connected.
It doesn’t mean there aren’t real people out there making similar bone head actions. You see, with computers and the internet, we have greatly expanded what people can do in society, including dumbass things.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...