Facebook is to purge its platform of all sex-related content according to the announcement of a new policy banning everything from nude pictures to “sexualized slang,” up to and including “vague suggestive statements.” The social media giant has not bothered informing its users of the new move.
The new “sexual solicitation” rules were adopted by Facebook’s board of directors in October this year, according to PCMag. Once fully implemented they will forbid everything from pornography to “implicit sexual solicitation.” The latter term is purposefully vague, encompassing “vague suggestive statements, such as ‘looking for a good time tonight,’” discussion of “sexual partner preference,” content (including hand-drawn art) that depicts “suggestively posed persons,” and even the use of “sexualized slang.”
Facebook long ago banned pornographic content, and has been joined by many other platforms – even Tumblr is jumping on that bandwagon after a child porn scandal saw the site’s app banned from the Apple store, but this new measure comes with typically Zuckerbergesque justification: “[P]eople use Facebook to discuss and draw attention to sexual violence and exploitation. We recognize the importance of Facebook and want to allow for this discussion. We draw the line, however, when content facilitates, encourages or coordinates sexual encounters between adults.”
You read that correctly – Facebook is OK with discussion of sexual violence, but doesn’t want to provide a platform for consenting adults to meet in real life, or even indulge in a bit of mild flirting. Well a #MeToo supporting dickless creep like Zuckerberg wouldn’t want to encorage the idea that sex can fun and fulfilling or anything other than brutal, exploitative and life destroying.
A Facebook spokesperson claims it was Facebook’s human content reviewers (is he really asking us to believe Facebook employs real humans) who requested the new policy, claiming “the sexual exploitation policy did not adequately distinguish between exploitation (e.g. ‘My ex was a slut. Look at the photos she sent me.’) and solicitation (e.g. ‘Looking for swingers. Friday at 8 PM, [name of bar]. Wear pink.’) and solicitation (Hello big boy, I’ll give you a good time for $50).” The company has expanded its human workforce following user complaints that algorithms were flagging legitimate content for takedown, including classic works of art featuring exposed nipples and bottoms, and the American Declaration of Independence.
More disturbing than the rules themselves is Facebook’s failure to inform users that a large portion of their content – nearly all Facebook users have deployed a sexual innuendo at some point in their lives – is now likely to get them banned from the site. Shortly after the was adopted, Facebook purged hundreds of pages without warning and seemingly without rhyme or reason (one person’s innocent comments is another’s double – entendre), dismissing the deleted accounts as “spam” without any sort of appeal process for the affected users, some of whom had thousands of followers. The announcement of this policy, two months after its adoption, raises the disturbing possibility that rules like this could be used as justification for further purges (of political content for example.)
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) blames the controversial SESTA/FOSTA legislation passed in March for Facebook’s hard puritanical shift. Sex workers and LGBT activists took to Twitter to protest the new rules, which they say will disproportionately affect already-marginalized communities.