This last extra credit article focuses on Facebook’s guidelines and what they censor from their platform. This is the kind of thing I knew must have existed, but never gave much thought on what this could include, ethically. Free speech online matters, but protecting others from real harm derived from digital platforms matters too. CNN clearly aims to make light of what seems ridiculous (the article’s title begins with “naked butts”), but also some of these bans seem progressive and nuanced in terms of online regulations. I would argue that they seem responsive to the tumultuous social climate we live in, one charged with tensions surrounding mass shooting crimes, racism, and sexual abuse. They’re rules of the present demands.
Selling or buying illegal drugs, posting naked photos of children, and admitting to a crime on Facebook all seem like obvious bans. These censorships are ones that I’m sure have been around since Facebook’s early ages, as they reflect general bans on public online forums that serve in the interest of protecting users and prohibiting crime. Yet, the lack of female nipple rule seems a little dated, or at least more complicated in its implications. Why not ban male nipples too? Obviously this speaks to viewing the naked female body online as pornographic while the naked male body non offensive, and perhaps a greater disproportion of pornography depicting women’s bodies than men’s on the Internet. Maybe that’s a cultural battle too large to ask of Facebook to tackle in their current censorship laws, as they are a social media platform that wants to eliminate sexual content over equalizing body images. Nevertheless, this one, and also the no nude butts “unless photoshopped onto a public figure” seem a little off and I can’t quite take them seriously. No, but really, what could that rule possibly be referring to as an acceptable butt photo?
Insensitivity or victim-blaming rules, however, seem the most nuanced to me, and undeniably responsive to toxic online culture surrounding the exposure of rape culture, racism, and discrimination alike. I would say it’s worth applauding Facebook for enforcing censorships which will almost certainly be criticized as being too jurisdictive or too sensitive or “snowflake” like. These, which prohibit users from mocking disabled, traumatized, injured, or otherwise disadvantaged users seems like a positive step towards dismantling cyberbullying and harassment culture as a whole online. Mark Zuckerberg’s bout with congress might have been a bit cringe-worthy, but at least Facebook is still somewhat looking into protecting users. Unless you’re a celebrity with a photoshopped, nude rear end.