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Puritanical Facebook Censors Parody Publication, Makes Appeal Process A Threat

from the innocent-lambs dept

I have no idea why, but there seems to be a sudden influx of stories concerning Facebook patrolling its site and taking down content over rather puritanical standards of offense and vulgarity. The most recent examples of this have concerned a couple of pieces of artwork that the Facebook Decency Office deemed to be to risque, despite the fact that neither of the art pieces could reasonably be described as particularly pornographic. The most recent example of this kind of censorious brigade is less to do with scary, scary sex, and more to do with parody content that some might find vulgar.

It appears Viz, an outfit that is essentially an old-timey British take on The Onion, has had its Facebook page seized with little to no explanation.

The almost 40-year-old Viz, a parody of titles like Beano but with frequently risque language and humour, tweeted that Facebook has blocked its page. Ian Westwood, group managing director at parent Dennis Publishing, said that Facebook has not said what content violated its content rules.

“The question is what is, and isn’t acceptable to Facebook,” he said. “We have had that Facebook page for five years. We have had correspondence with them before about stuff they haven’t liked and we’ve taken it down. This time they have just blocked the page and won’t tell us what we’ve violated. We can appeal, but we don’t know what we would be appealing about, we put up a significant number of posts from the print brand to social media each day.”
Perhaps more strangely, while Facebook has informed Viz that it can appeal the unilateral blocking of its Facebook page, a loss in that appeal would result in a perma-ban.
The message from Facebook warned that if the publisher makes an unsuccessful appeal to have the page reinstated, it could face being permanently deleted.
Now, it should be noted that Viz uses language and subject matters that could certainly be considered much more crass compared with other parody outfits such as The Onion. It should also be noted that Viz is hilarious as well as useful in pointing out the absurdity of every day news and news publications. That's how parody works, after all. In fact, the publication has been tweeting out to members, as well as to Facebook, its concept work for updating its Facebook page, on which it has changed most of the imagery to puppies and kittens to try to appease the Facebook prude-patrol. This has had the effect of alerting those following Viz that Facebook has taken the page down, resulting in the appropriate backlash.

The idea that a social media site like Facebook would take down this kind of parody, ostensibly on the grounds of vulgarity, is silly in and of itself. It will, of course, only result in people pointing out just how much other vulgar content exists on the site and how haphazard the site appears to be in this kind of policing. But to do all of this without bothering to inform the victim of why the takedown has occurred and to then use the appeals process as a threat of perma-ban? C'mon.

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Filed Under: censorship, parody, satire, takedowns, uk, viz
Companies: facebook, viz


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Feb 2016 @ 10:00am

    The purity brigade rises from its grave to fight against the dangerous rock and roll and other corruption of our youth.

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