If you have been following the story about the “gay kiss” scandal that erupted from the pissed off blog post that I posted here on Saturday and went international within… um, minutes, then you have probably also heard that Facebook subsequently apologized.
This is wildly inaccurate, to say the least…
The so-called “apology” touted by the likes of Perez Hilton, Pink News, The Advocate and even mainstream news sources like AOL, Huffington Post and Gawker, as if some kind of “victory” had been won by the LGBT community was nothing more than generic “Oopsie! We goofed” text left by a low level Facebook employee six pages in on the comments to the original Dangerous Minds post. Here is the screen shot:
THIS two sentence squib is what is being described as “an apology” and repeated over and over again by SHITLOADS of extremely lazy reporters as an “official” statement from Facebook!
Is it? Doesn’t look that way to me. I mean, at least say it like you mean it!
Prove this to yourself by googling the exact words that appear here and you will see exactly what I mean. This supposed “apology” was nothing more than a “comment.” That’s it. I used to work at the Los Angeles Times and believe me when I tell you that 99% of the articles I have read about this matter would never have gotten past the copy desk there. This was ONLY shoddy reporting and nothing but shoddy reporting. Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper was the very worst of all. That “reporter” got almost every single major fact WRONG. And then that article got rewritten by even lesser news sources all over the Internet.
Furthermore, it’s not saying anything specifically about a gay kiss. This generic text could also refer, for example, to a photo of a breastfeeding woman that someone reported as “abusive” (their word not mine) to Facebook’s censors. Don’t break out the champagne so fast, folks.
Read what John Hudson had to say, writing at The Atlantic Wire today:
This week, with some satisfaction, a number of gay and lesbian news sites reported that Facebook had “apologized” for removing a photo of two men kissing on its site. The initial censorship had sparked a week-long protest and attracted coverage from The Huffington Post, MSNBC and other news outlets. But now, the man who started the controversy says he’s not satisfied with Facebook’s response. “This is being presented as some kind of victory or that there’s a reason to go do a conga line down Christopher Street,” says Richard Metzger, who posted the photo of two fully-clothed men kissing that was removed from Facebook on Saturday for containing “nudity, or any kind of graphic or sexually suggestive content” according to a notice from the social network.
On Monday, after many gay men and women protested the decision by putting up pictures of themselves kissing on Facebook, the company issued a statement to a handful of media outlets [RM note: I disagree w/ John here, I don’t think it was sent to anyone, I think The Advocate got it from DM’s comments section and that it got repeated over and over again from that report until it became “true”]: “The photo in question does not violate our Statement of Rights and Responsibilities and was removed in error. We apologize for the inconvenience.”
But Metzger doesn’t see why anyone’s celebrating that acknowledgement. “It’s just generic PR speak that doesn’t even refer to a gay kiss,” he says. “The real problem here is certainly not that Facebook is a homophobic company. It’s that their terrible corporate policy on censorship needs to stop siding with the idiots, the complainers and the least-enlightened and evolved amongst us.”
According to Facebook’s FAQ page, a “Facebook administrator looks into each report thoroughly” when deciding whether to remove an item. “There shouldn’t be a human being making that determination,” says Metzger. He would prefer a censorship system that removes flagged photographs based on an automatic, crowdsourced method similar to the one used by the comedy site Funny or Die. Essentially, he’s promoting a “wisdom of the crowd” system that would work like this: One user flags an item and a second alert pops up asking other users if the material is offensive or not. That way, no single person could get a photograph banned.
But would a “majority rules” system make for a more tolerant Facebook? We’re not sure. Asked if he thought his proposed system could result in more homophobic behavior, Metzger responded as such:
“That’s possible, but in our ecosystem that kind of behavior would be expelled. On Free Republic-type groups, behavior like that might get voted up but it wouldn’t affect the whole Facebook ecosystem. These groups stay with their own kind.”
Still confused? Here’s the back story, just in case:
Richard Metzger: How I, a married, middle-aged man, became an accidental spokesperson for gay rights (Boing Boing)