Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Censored on Facebook

By Joel Adams

I have or should i say had a Facebook page that I used mostly for business reasons, and keeping in touch with fans and letting them know what I was working on. This past Tuesday, I posted to my page the new cover to the upcoming issue of NUDE because I have a new piece of art in it. I added a link to pre-order the issue and I made the cover my profile picture for the day.

I woke up Wednesday morning to find my profile picture was gone. I immediately went to my email and found a message from Facebook stating:

"You uploaded a photo that violates our Terms of Use, and this photo has been removed. Facebook does not allow photos that attack an individual or group, or that contain nudity, drug use, violence, or other violations of the Terms of Use. These policies are designed to ensure Facebook remains a safe, secure and trusted environment for all users, including the many children who use the site. If you have any questions or concerns, you can visit our FAQ page at"

So I followed the link to see if there was anymore information to help and got this:

Photos are removed if they contain nudity, drug use or other obscene content. If the photo attacks another individual or group, it will be removed as well.

The image was the cover of the new issue of NUDE. I'll give it that it is one of the sexier covers that Carrie has shot, but was there anything to censor? Even though I had viewed the image many times now, having worked with it to put it on the website, I had to pull up the image again to really look at it. This cover is going to sit on shelves at Barnes and Noble and Borders. It will be up on Maybe Carrie missed some "naughty bit" that could not only get the image pulled from Facebook, but hidden from display at the book stores.

I looked at it carefully. I blew it up huge on my monitor like a pervert hunting for some bit of naughty, but I found nothing. All I can figure was that maybe the person who viewed the image looked at it quickly as a small image and, at a glance, thought the model was naked. So, Wednesday night, I posted the image again as my profile pic, but this time I added in the description asking that before anyone thinks to remove the image to examine it because it did conform to Facebook's "terms of use".

Thursday morning I woke up and immediatly turned on my laptop to make sure that it was still there and, "whew", there is was. I got up and out of the house, arrived at work and turned my computer on, went to Facebook and... gone... no explanations, just the same form letter. What I didn't mention before is with the form letter and amongst the terms of use, it basically tells you that they will not tell you what images they remove or why.

This frustrated the hell out of me. I am not a sit down and just take it. I make calls, I write letters, I try to get and answer... but you can't with Facebook. No way to really contact anyone. No emails for sure. I was to then forced to just sit and take it while someone played judge and jury with the images on my page. Facebook's own Gestapo of censorship.

I wasn't done, I got a little hot-headed this time and I added, right on the image, below the image, and in big enough type to read at a small size, I wrote asking to please look at the image before taking it down again. Maybe not as friendly as that, but that is the gist of it. Then I went on about my day.

Well, it didn't take a day for me to find out if they would ignore my message and take it down again. Around 7pm, I went to my Facebook page and... it was gone... but this time it was not just the image that was gone, the Facebook censors deleted my whole account. I was in shock. I had been on Facebook for at least 2 years and the page had become a huge business tool for me. I had over 2000 friends and customers on the page that are now gone. I have dozens of sites that now link to a blank page on Facebook where people would be looking for me, and all because some "Censor Nazi" would either not look carefully at the image, or has standards that are even more puritanical that of the Facebook terms of use.

Let me just add in here that the page I had with Facebook was completely set to private so the only way you could see anything on my page would be to be on my "friends" list. I do this intentionally for these reasons because as an artist who does nudes and work that may be risque for some, I want to make sure that only the audience I chose can see and no children can have access.

This is not my first run-in with censorship on Facebook, I guess. I have had artwork of nudes removed. Tastefully done artistic nudes, but it didn't seem to matter. If I drew a nipple, it was gone. I guess if it is not Titian or Michelangelo, it is then naked and not art. This doesn't explain the magazine cover though, and there seems to be no-one to ask "why?".

Maybe I shouldn't have called them Censor Nazis... Maybe Facebook sucks.