Full disclosure: I'm much, much more socially liberal than the average bear. I won't get into specifics about certain policy positions - but let's just say that I fail to see how a little lightening up could do anything but help a society.
Having said that, I believe that you can be pretty socially conservative and still see that Facebook really needs to lighten up when it comes to nudity.
And no, I'm not suggesting that we turn the news feed into a porn tube or we turn the Timeline into an exhibition show. Let's be real - this isn't Myspace.
What do you think should be the line when it comes to nudity on Facebook? What do you think of their current policies? Have you ever had a post removed and you felt it was unjust based on their policies? Let us know in the comments.
All I'm suggesting is that we stop acting like the catalyst for the fall of our moral civilization is a 15-year-old catching a glimpse of a painted breast. I'll now step down off the soapbox and get to the real story.
Parenting blog strollerderby (a Babble property) reports that Babble's social media manager Andrea Zimmerman recently had a photo removed from her Facebook page. She received that standard rigamarole about Facebook's nudity and pornography policy and the obligatory "do this too much and we'll kick you off" warning. Many of us have seen this first hand in our many years of Facebooking.
The photo in question is of a fully nude woman with both breasts exposed. Both nipples are visible and the subject of the photo is touching herself. Check out the incredibly obscene photo below:
Are you as horrified as I am?
The photo, part of a pregnancy body art series, is about as un-obscene as it can get. In fact, it's rather beautiful. But the problem lies with Facebook. It doesn't matter that this depiction of nudity is what it is - and not some still image from Bangbus.
Facebook's current policy says that the user "will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence." It goes on to say that a photo can and will be removed if it "contain[s] nudity, drug use or other obscene content. If the photo attacks another individual or group, it will be removed as well."
Nudity, drug use, or other obscene content. When did nudity just automatically become obscene content?
Let's take another photo example - this time one more personal to me. I shared an article of mine to my personal Facebook page as well as WebProNews' Facebook page. The article in question was about Porn sites participating in the internet-wide SOPA protests. This was its lead image:
As you can see, the young lass in the photo is rather buxom, and her assets aren't exactly hidden away. But as you can clearly see, no nudity in the classical sense. No more skin is shown in that photo than in a bikini shot the average college girl posts after Spring Break. Nevertheless, Facebook removed the entire article from both my personal account and the WebProNews account. They also temporarily suspended my account and gave me the whole community guidelines lecture. All for the above photo, let me remind you.
Facebook and breasts have already been in the news this week. Breastfeeding activists who say that Facebook has removed countless breastfeeding images of theirs scheduled "nurse-in" protests at Facebook offices around the world.
Facebook's policy on that is that breastfeeding photos are allowed as long as they don't show "an exposed breast where the child in not actively engaged in nursing.” The activists claim that Facebook is unable to keep up with their removals and are unjustly taking down images that do not violate the policy.
It's totally understandable that many photos get removed in error. Just imagine the volume of photos that hit Facebook every day. Mistakes should no doubt be expected.
But could a laxation of policy alleviate a bit of the problem? If Facebook lightened up, just a bit, could it prevent images like my (clearly not nude) lingerie girl from being removed unjustly?
I'm fully aware that it is Facebook's right as a company to set up their policies in any way they choose. And trust me guys, I don't want to turn Facebook into YouPorn. I just want Facebook to stop acting like nude pregnant body art is obscene.
What do you think? First, what do you think the line is when it comes to images on Facebook? Secondly, how big of a problem is the fact that photos are being removed in error, having not violated Facebook's stated policies?
Should Facebook create more specific guidelines differentiating nudity from pornography? Let us know in the comments.