Social media has become a part of daily life throughout the entire world due to advances in technology. Some of these platforms have begun to censor the posts of their users through different means such as banning their posts or even deleting/suspending their account. Each platform has their own rules and guidelines of what can and cannot be posted on it. This action is good in theory, but it can also cause many issues. Sites such as Facebook allow their community to report anything that seems inappropriate. This can be a very helpful tool for the things that slip past and are in violation of some of the rules, but it can also lead to false reports and other problems. There are also multitudes of ways that your account can be temporarily locked or banned. This leads to many more issues against Facebook for falsely deleting someone’s account. I think everyone has a right to have an account and post as they please as long as they are not doing any physical harm to anyone.
In my opinion blocking or suspending someone’s account will just lead to more backlash because it is usually for a minor reason. If you post content too quickly or spam a person with likes, you will definitely be locked out of your account. The bans usually last only 24 hours, but in more extreme cases it can last days or even weeks. Another easy way to have your account banned is to have the same name as any famous person. They will delete your account for pretending to be a celebrity even if that is your actual name. A girl named Selena Miranda Gomez had her account deleted because they thought it was an inauthentic account impersonating the celebrity. She specifically added her middle name to try to not be confused with the famous actress, and in no way was even trying to pretend to be her. It is unclear if she ever got her account back or not. Another comical case was when Mark S. Zuckerberg’s account was deleted for identity fraud. This man is a lawyer with a different middle name who had to show loads of proof just to create an account in the first place, only to have it revoked later. These are two examples, but there have been many more and some people have even gone so far as to take legal action against the company.
The art community has always had extreme issues with the way Facebook handles censorship. This is both due to the built in artificial intelligence screening they use and the posts being flagged by other users. The case that gets under my skin the most is the censorship of art that is claimed to defy the rules of posting nudity. The incident that has always bothered me the most was the censorship of a Paleolithic statue, the Venus of Willendorf. This is one of the first statues of the female figure ever created, and it not even detailed enough to be considered nudity in my opinion. Another embarrassing example was when they banned an image of a woman licking an ice cream cone (Ice Cream (1964) by Evelyne Axell) for being inappropriate content. Even Picasso’s cubist painting ((1881-1973), Women at their Toilette) was banned from the platform. There have been multiple instances of Facebook deleting entire accounts due to them believing the art was inappropriate such as in the case of Frédéric Durand-Baïssas. I think that banning someone’s art or advertising is wrong no matter what because these people are trying to promote themselves, but they can’t if they are not allowed to post their work anywhere. Art is in a completely different realm from pornographic content and should not be seen as such.
Statement directly from Facebook guidelines:
We also allow photographs of paintings, sculptures, and other art that depicts nude figures. Restrictions on the display of sexual activity also apply to digitally created content unless the content is posted for educational, humorous, or satirical purposes. Explicit images of sexual intercourse are prohibited. Descriptions of sexual acts that go into vivid detail may also be removed.
I have also experienced people being blocked for posting about a particular subject. I personally remember a few of my friends getting banned for testing their boundaries by posting variations of “men are trash” or other statements that have been flowing around claiming will lock out your account. Some of the most extreme bans lasted 30 days as in the case of a comedian named Kayla Avery, but most lasted only 24 hours regarding these statements. They have also received a lot of backlash for removing images and blocking accounts that portray women breast feeding or post mastectomy images. In my opinion this is so wrong because neither of those types of images are meant to be taken in a sexual manner, rather they want to raise awareness or promote positivity for others going through similar things. I think as Americans we just like to over sexualize everything and this becomes very problematic for many reasons. We have also become very sensitive to criticism and judgment so things will often get flagged when they do not actually break any of the Facebook rules. I think reviewing the flagged subject matter before banning it would be a much more reasonable way to proceed rather that reviewing it after it has been taken down already. I believe in the freedom of speech argument, but when it comes to a social media site that was created for a specific use there needs to be a cutoff limit of what can and can’t be said.
Facebook is known for unnecessarily blocking accounts, but when it comes to actual harmful material they do not take action. People are allowed to be as racist or offensive as they want online with no repercussions. I think that there do need to be guidelines and censorship with social media, but I do not think that their priorities are in the right place. An account should only be banned or deleted if it causes a real threat or breaks some major guidelines. In Facebook’s case this solution rarely works and causes disorder with only more problems for the company itself. They need to create a better AI system that moderates these posts or at least have every post or person who has been flagged reviewed by a real person. They have been updating their guidelines throughout the years, but still do not follow some of the newer protocols. I think their rules and regulations need a firm updating to add new rules and remove some of their others. They should also loosen their regulations on profile names because some people prefer to go by an alias or a nickname rather than their full birth name. Deleting accounts and posts should be reserved only for extreme cases to avoid further backlash and annoyance from their customers.