Facebook Won't Pull Shockingly Graphic Indian Prostitution Page [UPDATED]

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UPDATE: It looks like Facebook has removed the page, as I thought they would. But it was still active for a long time, and Facebook did delay in yanking it even after various content reports. Still shows how messed-up Facebook's content-removal system can be.


Facebook - you're sending some seriously mixed messages here.

After yanking such highly-offensive content as artwork of Bea Arthur's breasts, a New Yorker cartoon featuring the most rudimentary depiction of breasts that could ever exist, elbows that appear to resemble breasts, and various photos of women engaged in breastfeeding, Facebook has decided that a page for one of India's most notorious red-light districts is a-ok.

The page, Sonagachi (very NSFW), features graphic photos of breasts, vaginas, penises, oral sex, and even a series of photos apparently depicting a girl losing her virginity.

It makes no point to hide what it is, listing this in the "about" section:

Sonagachi is the largest red-light district in Kolkata, India and one of the largest in Asia. It is an area with several hundred multi-story brothels and estimated 11,000 sex workers

The page hasn't posted in months, but it is still filled with postings from others - some soliciting prostitutes. Plus, all of those photos...

Blogger Liz Boltz Ranfield first spotted the page and called on Facebook to do something about it. She, along with a writer from Jezebel (and others), all reported the content to Facebook for removal.

To their shock, Facebook replied with a "thanks but we can't find any reason to remove it" email:


Thanks for your recent report of a potential violation on Facebook. After reviewing your report, we were not able to confirm that the specific page you reported violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.

Learn more about what we do and don’t allow by reviewing the Facebook Community Standards: https://www.facebook.com/communitystandards.


Interesting. Considering that the page features graphic nudity, sexual acts, and possibly sexual depictions of minors, this seems like an odd choice.

Facebook's terms of service clearly state that...

"You will not post content that: is hate speech, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence," and that "You will not use Facebook to do anything unlawful, misleading, malicious, or discriminatory."

Seems like there's plenty here to prompt the shuttering of the page.

Just so we can understand this - this is ok:

As is this:

But this deserved to be yanked:

(It was later reinstated with Facebook's apology - but still, the content moderators felt they had reason to pull this at some point)

In the past, many of these content-removal controversies could be attributed to two simple facts about Facebook: First, their content moderation is mostly outsourced, and second, there are billions of photos going up on Facebook every week. That means that it's almost impossible to police all the content without some screw-ups.

But this is different. This is Facebook's content moderation being notified (multiple times) about content that is the epitome of what Facebook should be banning (per their terms of service), and the company is choosing to leave it up. It's especially odd considering Facebook's recent move to get tougher on harmful content after being pressured by various women's groups

I fully expect Facebook to eventually see the error in this judgement and yank the page. It's inevitable with this much backlash. But, once again, we have an example of Facebook's bad content moderation system at work. Something's gotta change.

Josh Wolford
Josh Wolford is a writer for WebProNews. He likes beer, Japanese food, and movies that make him feel weird afterward. Mostly beer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshgwolf Instagram: @joshgwolf Google+: Joshua Wolford StumbleUpon: joshgwolf

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