Tuesday, October 4, 2011

. . . is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains recipes or graphic or gratuitous violence

I changed one word in this excerpt from Facebook's Statement of Rights and Responsibilities Para 3. Item 7.

Can you guess which?  No prizes.

Can you guess which word I took out?  What else is like graphic or gratuitous violence?  Just as shocking, just as pernicious, just as corrupting.  Why, it's nudity, of course.  As construed in the West.  Ankles are in, women's faces are fine, but breasts, bottoms are fiddly bits are out.  Facebook save us from pictures of what's under our own clothes.

I've never been able to get all that exercised about nudity one way or the other.  I'm amazed and amused to find out that breastfeeding mothers in my new country fling a tarpaulin over themselves in public (even the prudish Scots in the chill winds of home don't do that).  It never occurred to me to wear clothes in the Turkish baths, or to turn my back in communal changing rooms.  I've even been on a naturist beach.  Once.  It was nice not to have to do the beachtowel marenge to get dried and changed after swimming, but in the end I decided I'd rather wear bikini bottoms than sunblock.

One odd moment that afternoon in Norfolk was when a power-boat-ful of male morons came whomping across the bay to leer and jeer and do that bellowing noise that makes you think evolution has started running backwards.  They were having great fun until a little girl of about five, who'd been crouched filling her bucket at the water's edge, stood up and stared back at them, clearly wondering what all the noise was for. 
The leering and jeering snapped off like someone had pulled a plug; they fired up the engine and took off around the headland again.  I often wonder if they managed to reassemble the experience into a funny story in which they *hadn't* suddenly found themselves wolf-whistling at a naked little girl, or maybe an outraged story in which her naturist parents were the villains and they were just regular guys.  I hope not.

Anyway, back to Facebook.  Nudity is defined in a clear, no-nonsense way.  Photographs, paintings, cartoons, sketches: nope, no way, a strong and steady no.

And now I get to my point, possibly even slower than usual.  Facebook doesn't take the same steady line when it comes to hatefulness, threats, and incitement to violence.   There's a page on Facebook called "I know a silly little bitch that needs a good slap".  And that's one of the milder titles of pro-rape/violence pages to be found.

What's that creaking noise?  Ah . . . it's our old friend the free speech, censorship, humourless women wagon rolling onstage.

But here's the thing.  Facebook doesn't offer itself as a platform for unconstrained free speech.  It holds out against hateful, threatening or pornographic speech (I know a silly little bitch that needs a good slap).  It refuses to publish incitements to violence (I know a silly little bitch that needs a good slap).  It's against nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence (I know a silly little bitch that needs a good slap). 

I think the nudity clause is the only part of 3.7 that this page doesn't violate. 

If you'd like to see Facebook abide by its own rules even when it's only women who are the target of the hate, threats and incitements to violence, you can  sign the petition at: http://chn.ge/paURxW

Next week, light-hearted fun.  Promise.

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