Facebook Still Deleting Non-Offensive Posts For Being Offensive

from the the-best-defense dept

Another day, another example of Facebook’s attempt at applying automated morality going poorly. For a site designed for little else beyond expressive speech, I suppose some erroneous applications of any kind of puritanism would go awry. Perhaps then you might have forgiven Facebook’s mistaking a children’s illustration for man-horse-fucking, or the algorithm’s inability to recognize satire.

But you would think that, in the wake of the tragic shooting that occurred at a nightclub in Orlando, one member of the LGBT community’s perfectly cogent and innocuous rant wouldn’t be gobbled up the by censor algorithm as being offensive. Here is the author’s tweet complaining about its removal (twice), including a screenshot of the text, so that you can get an idea of what was taken down.

After removing the post a second time, Facebook apparently banned the author from doing anything else on the site for three days. That notice pretty clearly implies that the author had shared some kind of child pornography. Which wasn’t true. The entirety of the post was text, imploring society to start to treat the LGBT community with a greater deal of respect. And, whatever your thoughts on the text of that post might be, certainly it is not something that should have been taken down as offensive, nevermind as any kind of pornography.

Look, I poke fun at Facebook over its morality attempts because it’s funny, but I don’t expect the site to be perfect. Still, when the censors are gobbling up legitimate viewpoints basically devoid of anything offensive as offensive, then perhaps we’re better off with no filters at all.

Filed Under: , ,
Companies: facebook

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Facebook Still Deleting Non-Offensive Posts For Being Offensive”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
70 Comments
Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: It's Facebook

People like you disgust me.

Businesses are NOT immune from criticism and I wholely reject your framing and any similar world view that deems businesses above any and all reproach unrelated to perceived profit-making.

Onto the article itself – I don’t know why Facebook is doing this, but I wager its due to the “hate speech” hysteria and McCarthyism that’s gripped the Bay Area by storm over the past few years. I have no idea what the stick or carrot is to do this – there’s been numerous examples over the past few years in the business and academic worlds that hamfisted hate speech policing is bad for business and pisses off an enormous amount of your userbase.

Uriel-238says:

Re: Re: I'm not sure what he was saying was proscriptive.

Our corporate culture is lousy with pushing for short-term profits in favor of long term profits or fitting into the community.

It’s hardly right, and in fact it shortens the lifespans of corporations and product lines, and hastens the degradation of the US but worshiping the short term bottom line is very common.

Why is the topic of countless debates and many factors.

I’m not sure Anonymous Coward was endorsing this state of affairs. I wouldn’t. But it is the case.

Uriel-238says:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's Facebook

If Capitalism is about companies seeking profits using all available means, even those that are immoral or unethical, then yes the ideology of Capitalism is worth rejecting.

It doesn’t work anyway, since government lobbying towards regulatory capture produces one of the strongest profit margin. I could create a business model (and some have) of simply lobbying officials to subsidize me. And that could be (in some cases, is) vastly profitable without actually producing anything.

Capitalism only works when tightly regulated.

Bergmansays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

The right to freedom of speech is the right to offend. It cannot be anything else without abolishing it as a right.

No matter what you say, no matter how hard you try to make it inoffensive, someone somewhere will be offended by it — Guaranteed.

If one person being offended strips you of your freedom to speak, then you have no freedom to speak. Ever.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

Calling someone a homo is wrong.
Calling someone a homophobe is okay.

Man, such great logic right there!

If you are insulted by something not intended to insult you then you are a fool.

If you are insulted by something intended to insult you then you are an even greater fool, for you have played into the hands of your enemy.

~Can’t remember who said that, thinking Mark Twain?

gigglehurtzsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

Not logic, language.

Homo is derogatory slang.

Homophobe is defined in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary as “a person who hates or is afraid of homosexuals or treats them badly.”

So yeah, calling someone a homo is meant as an insult. Calling someone a homophobe is descriptive.

Richardsays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

I find the term homophobia to be offensive for the following reason.

A phobia is an irrational fear, not under the control of who has it.

Using the word homophobia as a term of abuse – which is what it effectively has become is offensive to people who suffer from phobias in the same way that use of the word “spastic” in a derogatory way (which was common in the 60’s and 70’s) is abusive of people with cerebal palsy.

I very much doubt however that that was what was in the head of the facebook censor.

Uriel-238says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Homophobe / Homophobia

I’m pretty sure that Kim Davis, Pastor Roger Jimenez of Verity Baptist Church and Pastor Steven Anderson of Faithful Word Baptist Church all are irrationally terrified of gays. If they are typical of people who detest gays, then yeah, homophobe and homophobia are serviceable terms.

I’ve not encountered anyone who hates gays as a group that isn’t terrified of them for one fictitious reason or another, usually claiming that gays are pedophiles or rapists, neither of which is statistically over-represented in the gay community.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

“I find the term homophobia to be offensive for the following reason.

A phobia is an irrational fear, not under the control of who has it.

Using the word homophobia as a term of abuse – which is what it effectively has become is offensive to people who suffer from phobias in the same way that use of the word “spastic” in a derogatory way (which was common in the 60’s and 70’s) is abusive of people with cerebal palsy.”

It shorely is a white man’s world, yes it is…

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

I don’t think people know what the word phobia means. It is most certainly is being used as a derogatory term because most of the people it is used against have nothing to do with fear or mistreatment.

Secondly, this person trying to lay the massacre at the feet of straights is disgusting. The attack was by a gay man so to drag straights into this is ridiculous. If they want respect they should realize respect is earned and blaming a group of people who had nothing to do with it will not win respect.

Uriel-238says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Michete isn't responding to straights as if they instigated the murder.

Michete is responding to the flood of support from the straight community that has (in some cases) come with an implication that they’ve always been in best buds with the LGBTQ community.

No they haven’t. Anti-gay hate crime is still a pretty frequent deal, especially in the redder states. (Heh. When I was growing up red meant such a very different thing.)

Particularly conspicuous was Ted Cruz who, only months ago was rallying with major anti-gay players such as Gordon Klingenschmitt, Gary Glenn, Flip Benham, Ron Baity, Glenn Grothman and Tony Perkins, all who are kill-the-gays extremists, pushing not only the gay-is-a-capital-crime legislation in Uganda, but preaching as much and encouraging lone wolf attackers here in the states.

And yet, Cruz is trying to garner not pro-gay support after Orlando, but rather anti-Islam support. Because here in the US, nothing says Conservative Christianity like hate rhetoric.

The thing is the gay community really does appreciate being acknowledged, and more to the point, not hated. But we’d really like it if we didn’t have to eat so many bullet to be appreciated.

And while yes, Michete was rather (IMO) ranty in the way she said it, that’s what she was trying to say.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

“I don’t think people know what the word phobia means. It is most certainly is being used as a derogatory term because most of the people it is used against have nothing to do with fear or mistreatment.

Secondly, this person trying to lay the massacre at the feet of straights is disgusting. The attack was by a gay man so to drag straights into this is ridiculous. If they want respect they should realize respect is earned and blaming a group of people who had nothing to do with it will not win respect.”

I stand by my previous statement, lawsey, lawsey…

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

“Calling someone a homo is wrong.
Calling someone a homophobe is okay.”

Yep. One is a protected class and a state of being, like race or gender and thus attacking that is wrong. The other just means you’re an ignorant bigot and can be attacked all you want, just as a racist or misogynist should be.

As for your quote, that’s true if someone is simply calling you names, but systematic oppression tends to require action.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

If a person is gay, that is usually in inherent part of their character and cannot be changed, although society has traditionally called upon it to be repressed. Homophobia is usually the result of ignorance or intolerance and can be changed through experience and education. So, yes, attacking someone because of who or what they naturally are is wrong, attacking them because they hold unsavoury opinions is OK. That holds whether you’re talking about black people vs. racists, women vs. misogynists or homosexuals vs homophobes.

Annoy Mousesays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

Yeah, I’d bet half the people replying here didn’t read the crap she wrote, so let me give a synopsis:
If you don’t agree 100% with the LGBT agenda, then you’re homophobic and the reason 50 people were killed.

She’s min wage worker at Pizza Hut and the mentality of a child. I give zero phycks what she thinks or if FB blocks her. If they didn’t I would prob block her anyway.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

“Yeah, I’d bet half the people replying here didn’t read the crap she wrote”

Well, if Facebook weren’t censoring her, maybe the images would be more legible. But, what I read was a call to stop the kind of hatred that leads people to go off the rails like this. What’s the problem with that?

“If you don’t agree 100% with the LGBT agenda”

Well, there’s the thing. Homophobes usually can’t explain what the “LGBT agenda” actually is in their minds. It’s a meaningless term, created to get people who are afraid of “the other” to believe that there’s some nefarious plot.

To most of us, they’re just fighting a battle to be accepted as human beings with the same rights and opportunities as straight people. When people start blathering on about an “agenda” without further explanation, that just makes you sound homophobic. Since homophobia is what feeds the kind of hatred that led to the Orlando massacre, the comparison is apt.

“She’s min wage worker at Pizza Hut”

OK, anonymous person, what glorious career do you have that allows you to look down on others so?

“If they didn’t I would prob block her anyway.”

That’s your choice, which is fine. Intelligent people would prefer if other people weren’t making the choice for them.

PaulTsays:

Likely scenario: because it’s a post in favour of treating the LGBT community like human beings it keeps getting reported by bigots and flagged by an automated process. When asked why they’re reporting, they tick the porn category, which is why that’s stated. Facebook either haven’t had a human intervene yet, or have an equally bigoted admin who’s letting it go down.

Let’s be honest, this is most likely to do with software rather than Facebook making an actual decision, and it’ll get reversed when the PR storm hits. Not ideal, but can anyone else think of a process that will be effective at policing this much content without some silly false positives?

Uriel-238says:

Re: Re: Is this from a news source?

Well, I have a lot of gay friends, and at times that we hung out at clubs, they’d often be gay clubs.

As I don’t go to bars or clubs to hook up with strangers, it doesn’t really make much of a difference what the venue is, so long as people are pleasant.

I’d wager that plenty of others go to venues to hang with friends, and it’s not about the singles around them.

Also if there are live performances, people go to clubs less for the venue and more for the performer. Dunno about Pulse.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re: Is this from a news source?

Yeah, I know plenty of women who like to go to gay venues so that they don’t get aggravated by wannabe PUA assholes all night, and as a veteran of the 90s UK house scene a lot of the music I was into was created at gay venues, even if I never personally visited one. I’d like to see figures for the original claim that more straight people were victims, but there’s a lot of reasons to go to a gay club if hooking up with a stranger isn’t a priority for your night out.

John Fendersonsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: Re: Is this from a news source?

“I know plenty of women who like to go to gay venues so that they don’t get aggravated by wannabe PUA assholes all night”

Me too. In fact, when my wife goes out for a “girl’s night on the town”, a local gay nightclub is their destination of choice for precisely this reason. They don’t get hit on so much, and they are treated with a great deal more respect all around.

PaulTsays:

Re: Re:

Indeed, and I have read of at least one poor woman who was only there so she could have a night out with her gay son.

But, in your quest to respect the straight victims, don’t forget that the reason the club was targeted was because it was a gay club. If the media is covering the gay victims more, it’s because they were the ones he wanted to kill.

Alkurhahsays:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Indeed, and I have read of at least one poor woman who was only there so she could have a night out with her gay son.

Ewww. I would never take my mother out cruising with me. He couldn’t give it up for one night to visit with his own mother?

…the reason the club was targeted was because it was a gay club.

I thought the authorities were still trying to determine the reason. Do you have a source for that?

Alkurhahsays:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re: "I would never take my mother out cruising with me."

“You presume he was cruising?”

Heh, you’re funny. You really don’t know what gay bars are about? LMAO

“And that Mom didn’t want to go and would rather stay home?”

Yeah, I’ve heard about those kind of parents. The kind that like to go cruising gay bars with their kids. I still find it kind of creepy.

Uriel-238says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re: Re: "I would never take my mother out cruising with me."

You really don’t know what gay bars are about? LMAO

It appears I’ve been to more gay bars than you have. Not all bars are singles hook-up establishments. That goes for gay bars as well.

To be fair, I don’t know if The Pulse had a theme or reputation other than than being a disco.

Yeah, I’ve heard about those kind of parents. The kind that like to go cruising gay bars with their kids. I still find it kind of creepy.

It sounds like your experiences with culture have not extended outside the suburbia in which you were raised. You may be in for a shock from the breadth of diversity.

Some cultures regard dance as something more than a mere means to coax bedfellows.

Anonymoussays:

Re: Re: Non-Offensive?

It’s way to easy to have regular posts removed on facebook, just takes a few people to report it and it’s automatically taken down and there’s no way to contact anyone about it or appeal it. But that’s only for normal posts, if it’s spam, porn, someone impersonating you or something illegal then facebook likes to leave that shit up.

A friend of mine had many people making fake accounts pretending to be her and scamming some people and it was damn near impossible sometimes to get facebook to do a damn thing about them but of course her account would get suspended all the time.

Skeetersays:

The Truth About Facebook

Never forget the one over-arching principle of Facebook. It was NOT designed and financially supported to be a ‘social networking site’. It was designed to be a ‘individual data gathering tool’, and the history is there to prove it.

This clearly implies that you are NOT allowed to post ANYTHING that is though-provoking, tension-charged or socially-questionable, unless those who financed it see that it serves their needs. If it does, you can post. If it doesn’t, you are banned (for a while, but since they still need your data, it won’t be forever).

Now, knowing this, watch what is banned, and what isn’t, and you can pretty-much blueprint what ‘the-powers-that-be’ (or the financiers that finance) really want society to do. It’s not hard, then again, you have to turn the TV off and focus for a few minutes to see it.

Mondaysays:

I'm not so sure it was 'automated'.

I have read the FB post and anything attached with it, and I am not so sure it was automated. The environment, although worldly in support of condemning the act in Orlando, still has haters and misogynists, homophobes and puritans.

I submit this was removed twice because of complaints – haters of free will and free speech seem to have a voice now, and if they can silence one voice, anonymously, they will do it…

It is quite easy to ‘takedown’ a post, when there is little, if any actual human involvement in this decision making processes.

Zensays:

Adopt penalties for false reporting.

People with an agenda probably reported it as child porn. In that case the Facebook will take it down automatically without human intervention.

What they need to do is simply add harsh penalties to people who abuse the reporting system. Ban their accounts, and then issue an even longer ban over their ability to report content.

Add an appeal process, where a human gets to view the content but add an even longer ban if the appeal is denied.

Have a moderation system where a randomly selected “jury” of facebook users get to decide about the accuracy of the claim.

They don’t have the man power to review things. There ways to solve that problem.

Namelesssays:

May I ask if this is offensive?

"Women are like cats. When you show them interest, they don’t want you. When you show it to someone else, they get jealous."

Because it really doesn’t seem it to me. Or am I an asshole?

And yet Facebook says that it’s offensive though I have nothing against women or cats. WTF Facebook?

PaulTsays:

Re: Re:

"yet Facebook says that it’s offensive"

Does it? In my experience, when sexist jokes are being flagged as offensive, it’s because one of your "friends" or a member of the group you posted in has flagged it, not because Facebook’s algorithms have flagged it.

"I have nothing against women or cats"

Maybe not, but the joke is sexist and some women take offence to being compared to animals. They may be very thin skinned or lacking in sense of humour in your opinion by being offended by such a joke, but it’s not Facebook’s fault if they are.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Report this ad??|??Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...
Older Stuff
12:25 Australian Privacy Commissioner Says 7-Eleven Broke Privacy Laws By Scanning Customers' Faces At Survey Kiosks (6)
10:50 Missouri Governor Doubles Down On 'View Source' Hacking Claim; PAC Now Fundraising Over This Bizarrely Stupid Claim (45)
10:45 Daily Deal: The All-in-One Microsoft, Cybersecurity, And Python Exam Prep Training Bundle (0)
09:43 Want To Understand Why U.S. Broadband Sucks? Look At Frontier Communications In Wisconsin, West Virginia (8)
05:36 Massachusetts College Decides Criticizing The Chinese Government Is Hate Speech, Suspends Conservative Student Group (71)
19:57 Le Tigre Sues Barry Mann To Stop Copyright Threats Over Song, Lights Barry Mann On Fire As Well (21)
16:07 Court Says City Of Baltimore's 'Heckler's Veto' Of An Anti-Catholic Rally Violates The First Amendment (15)
13:37 Two Years Later, Judge Finally Realizes That A CDN Provider Is Not Liable For Copyright Infringement On Websites (21)
12:19 Chicago Court Gets Its Prior Restraint On, Tells Police Union Head To STFU About City's Vaccine Mandate (158)
10:55 Verizon 'Visible' Wireless Accounts Hacked, Exploited To Buy New iPhones (8)
10:50 Daily Deal: The MacOS 11 Course (0)
07:55 Suing Social Media Sites Over Acts Of Terrorism Continues To Be A Losing Bet, As 11th Circuit Dumps Another Flawed Lawsuit (11)
02:51 Trump Announces His Own Social Network, 'Truth Social,' Which Says It Can Kick Off Users For Any Reason (And Already Is) (100)
19:51 Facebook AI Moderation Continues To Suck Because Moderation At Scale Is Impossible (26)
16:12 Content Moderation Case Studies: Snapchat Disables GIPHY Integration After Racist 'Sticker' Is Discovered (2018) (11)
13:54 Arlo Makes Live Customer Service A Luxury Option (8)
12:05 Delta Proudly Announces Its Participation In The DHS's Expanded Biometric Collection Program (5)
11:03 LinkedIn (Mostly) Exits China, Citing Escalating Demands For Censorship (14)
10:57 Daily Deal: The Python, Git, And YAML Bundle (0)
09:37 British Telecom Wants Netflix To Pay A Tax Simply Because Squid Game Is Popular (32)
06:41 Report: Client-Side Scanning Is An Insecure Nightmare Just Waiting To Be Exploited By Governments (35)
20:38 MLB In Talks To Offer Streaming For All Teams' Home Games In-Market Even Without A Cable Subscription (10)
15:55 Appeals Court Says Couple's Lawsuit Over Bogus Vehicle Forfeiture Can Continue (15)
13:30 Techdirt Podcast Episode 301: Scarcity, Abundance & NFTs (0)
12:03 Hollywood Is Betting On Filtering Mandates, But Working Copyright Algorithms Simply Don't Exist (66)
10:45 Introducing The Techdirt Insider Discord (4)
10:40 Daily Deal: The Dynamic 2021 DevOps Training Bundle (0)
09:29 Criminalizing Teens' Google Searches Is Just How The UK's Anti-Cybercrime Programs Roll (19)
06:29 Canon Sued For Disabling Printer Scanners When Devices Run Out Of Ink (41)
20:51 Copyright Law Discriminating Against The Blind Finally Struck Down By Court In South Africa (7)
More arrow