If you’ve been anywhere near where I’ve been over the weekend, you’ll have seen this article on Dangerous Minds about Facebook removing a photo of two men kissing.
From the article:
[…] it seems that the sight of two fully-clothed men kissing was too much for Facebook, or too much for some
redacted[…] who complained about it.
This is an issue a lot of networks need to face and be willing to take their place on; if a user flags an image as inappropriate on Facebook, it’s up to Facebook’s policymakers to either remove the image for the same of propriety, or leave it up and face action from the person flagging the image.
Facebook likely removed the image for reasons it will never explain – the trouble will come, however, not when it’s a picture of two men kissing, but when it’s a photograph of a couple’s wedding kiss that’s removed for inappropriate suggestive content. Or a parent giving their child a smooch.
This doesn’t just apply to Facebook – all information-storing networks suffer the same trouble. Offending a loud minority with anything means normative action by the network. It’s the only way to go.
Without this, there are two options;
- an incredibly strict EULA forcing people to acknowledge that they can’t do anything about things that offend them other than leave the network, or
- zero memory on the site itself, to go along with the lack of moderation; this way lies 4chan.
Not every network can handle either kind of strain on it’s social contract, because online networks need to remain an extension of real networks. The unfortunate problem is that, while free speech exists as law in the United States, almost all social networks are now (or have the potential to be) global, and need to allow for the strictest common denominator.
We’re going to see more of this kind of thing in the future, and we’d best be ready for it. More than any other governing force in our lives, our social networks are the best equipped to dole out equality as a commodity; even equality of objection to things we consider of no consequence.
Is this a good thing, or a bad thing?