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: arbitrary, breast cancer, breasts, social media, takedowns
Companies: facebook

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  1. icon
    discordian_eris (profile), 27 Oct 2016 @ 11:25am

    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.


    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.

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