Thursday, November 29, 2012

Facebook's Fear of Naughty Bits

Here you can see the original cover of my book. The image on the cover is of a statue at Ouchy, in Lausanne, Switzerland. Thousands of people, of all ages and from all cultures, pass by that statue every day. On every sunny day, dozens of people sit on the lawns around it, enjoying their lunch.

But Facebook doesn’t approve!

Everyone in the world of self-publishing knows how difficult it is to market a self-published book. Well, the other day I decided to bite the bullet and actually pay for some advertising, to see how that went for a while. Among the most affordable options was an ad on Facebook. I know, given my budget, that it would not get great exposure; but it would probably be more than I was getting without it. So I decided to risk it and part with some cash. I wrote the little blurb, uploaded the image, decided how much I was willing to spend, etc. Then I waited for the ad to become active. Only it didn’t, because the image didn’t meet their guidelines. I quote:

The image of your ad violates our Ad Guidelines. Images may not be overly sexual, imply nudity, show excessive amounts of skin or cleavage, or focus unnecessarily on body parts.

Now, I wonder, how does one “imply” nudity? By wearing clothes, perhaps? Hmmm, “focus unnecessarily on body parts.” How quaint! How coy! So, if I have a photograph of a hand? An eye? What body parts, Facebook? Can’t even bring yourself to name them? Let me guess: the “naughty bits”? These body parts have names, folks – breasts, penises and vaginas. Most of us possess at least one thing from that list. (I’m guessing that bottoms are not considered quite so naughty; but if they are, most of us have one of those too.) Presumably a woman in a bikini can “show excessive amounts of skin or cleavage”, but not “body parts”. So, be honest, Facebook, you don’t really care about “excessive amounts of skin or cleavage”; just those naughty bits. Now Facebook can make any rules they like, and I have to abide by their guidelines if I wish to use their services. But, really? Can an image of a statue in a public place really be considered offensive? Or are we dealing with automated censors here, programs that cannot make sensible decisions, rather than people?

I suppose these images would be unacceptable in an ad?

Does this pass muster?

Perhaps it’s time that Facebook (together with a large sector of modern society) began to grow up, and make some sensible, adult decisions. Or are we stuck with some automated programs (“bots”, or whatever the hell they are) to set our moral standards for us? Let’s start by calling a spade a spade, and a penis a penis.

Feel free to have a vigorous debate about this in the Comments section!

P.S. I have since changed the cover image, but I can assure you it was not because of Facebook's or anyone else's fear of naughty bits.


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1 comment:

  1. The whole thing seems ridiculous. They must have a spy-bot nipple detecting robot on their team.